By Luke Madden
The Neverlutionaries is the creation of multi-instrumentalist songwriter Christopher Harold Wells and "Stumble" is the second single off the upcoming self-titled LP out February 12, 2021 on Polychromatic Records.
"Stumble" is a song for those who usually enjoy screaming at the top of their lungs to hits like "Don’t Stop Believing," "Come Sail Away," "More Than a Feeling" or any of those '70s hybrids of pop and rock. The opening piano track is reminiscent of Journey and, somehow, Guns N' Roses’ "November Rain." The piano is the beating heart of the song, which evokes that same sense of anthemic desperation and loneliness of "Don’t Stop Believing." The verse’s vocals are pretty straight-forward and at times a bit generic — but isn't REO Speedwagon frontman Kevin Cronin’s voice a bit generic, too?
However, it is the production of this single (Wells worked alongside producer Jaimeson Durr) that really shines through as the chorus falls into a pool of subdued adoration with lily pads of melancholy decorating the surface. The restrained guitars mimic that love, which over time slowly become more of an appreciation than anything else. You can almost feel the guitar aching to scream its feelings to the world, but instead it keeps a straight face and is actually able to say more with a few notes than a hundred ever could. And, with their slow jam beats, the drums only hammer home imagery of being at a bar during last call, in some rust belt city in the '70s, while some drunk hops on the piano and everyone drunkenly carries the melody of something close to "Keep on Loving You."
The bass is a bit more energetic than the other components of the song, with its notes jumping around from the lower register to the higher one. The bass guitar in most songs tends to stay in the back of the mix due to its function and range, and the musician simply accepts the instrument's limitations. The bass in "Stumble" refuses to do so; instead it jumps around from a high range to a lower one to suggest energy. The bassist leans into the instrument's restraints to further the feeling with a dash of excitement.
"Stumble" ends with a climatic and — dare I say — cathartic vocal performance in which the vocals shoot up, obviously an influence from bands like Journey. We get a peep of Wells' intense, raw and earnest feelings, in this pseudo-operatic scene, but only for a moment, like the singer is embarrassed that we are listening to him baring his soul. And with that, he takes his heart upon his sleeve and puts it in his pocket.
I’m not a fan of The Neverlutionaries, nor this song, but I think about it like I would fast food. Sometimes you want McDonald's. Sometimes you want Chick-Fil-A. Other times something a bit more exotic like Taco Bell. Well, in this case I’m a vegetarian, but I’m not going to stop you, the listener, from enjoying yourself.