A year after releasing their excellent, deeply personal sophomore album Play and Rewind, Reliant Tom is back with a new single. Called “When We Were Young,” the song still retains the sonic qualities that made us fall in love with the band and name them our Best New Artist for 2020, but with a bit of a change-up from the mood and atmosphere of their last LP. Instead, this track is more uplifting and hopeful, the sound of us finally pulling ourselves out of a deadly pandemic.
The song opens with a simple, slinky guitar riff that repeats through the runtime of the song. The riff’s structure along with singer Claire Cuny’s cadence initially recalls the carefree vibes of pre-9/11 ’90s alternative music, though as the song progresses and the beat drops in, the duo’s influence of downtempo, dream pop and ambient music is unmistakable. It’s not surprising to learn that the roots of the song weren’t quite as uplifting as the final product.
“‘When We Were Young’ started out as a sad guitar ballad that I wrote while we were visiting Monte [Weber]’s family in Great Barrington, MA one summer,” said Cuny. “I have the original iPhone recording where I first play the idea for him. It’s a special recording to us because you can hear his family laughing in the distance, enjoying each other’s company. You can hear birds singing, the cool summer wind, and the sound of my slightly out of tune guitar slowly changing between two chords as I sing what became the song lyrics. When we went back home to Brooklyn to record, Monte was inspired to take the song in a totally different direction to capture that fun feeling and nostalgia we had at the family gathering.”
It’s no coicidence that Cuny and Weber’s first new single since Play and Rewind is more upbeat.
“This song is coming after releasing our latest work, Play & Rewind which is a full length album about grief and loss, and it’s coming after getting through the scariest period of the pandemic, so we both wanted to make something more upbeat that would hopefully influence how we were feeling,” said Cuny. “We changed nearly everything about the tune apart from the key and the lyrics. The song was sped up, with a thumbing energetic synth bass, and a beat which was a loose transcription of the opening measures of a Lafayette Afro Rock tune from the 1970’s that we had been jamming out to that summer.”
Photo Credit: Corey Hayes