Bright, danceable beat. Driving, energetic bassline. Clean, tight guitar. A beautiful girl with existential ennui. Del Pelson’s single “Heather Lou” truly has it all. The single, released on March 29th, features the titular Heather Lou on a song full of lyrical dissonance at its finest, insecurity and leisure all at once. “Heather Lou,” it begins, “why are you feeling so damn blue?” Hailing from Boca Raton, Florida, Del Pelson imbues their music with all of the cheer and easiness of the Sunshine State’s beaches and the tough realities of romantic relationships.
Heather Lou, the eponymous woman at the heart of Del Pelson’s troubled lyrics, is “so damn blue”, despite all that her lover tries to do and be for her. Cal Nelson, vocalist and guitarist, describes it as “seeing your partner become distant or depressed, and wondering what the cause could be and if there is anything you can do to help.” In relationships where one person is going through something internal like mental illness, it can feel as though the other party is at fault, causing extreme anxiety. Nelson calls it, “an internal battle, with the idea that maybe the best help I can be is to set you free from me.” This insecurity drives the song forward, a plea for some kind of answer to the question: is it my fault you’re sad?
“Well we’re stuck in the middle of a gun fight/ Stuck in the middle of a showdown/…/ If there was a way I’d do anything for you,” Nelson croons. Though he also plays a canny guitar, his voice is what sells him as a musician; he sounds like a 21st-century Chet Baker, if Chet Baker ever sang anything upbeat. Bassist Nathaniel Spiner produces a danceable bassline that, when combined with Garrett Kealer’s tight and energetic drum pulse, really motors. They set the stage for multi-instrumentalist Patrick Montanari to work his magic on keys, which give the song a nice fullness that wouldn’t be achieved with guitar and bass alone. The bridge doesn’t really build to a dramatic final chorus in a way that satisfies; the last chorus doesn’t feel any bigger or more exciting than the ones that preceded it, there is no explosion of sound or wild solos underneath the vocals. However, this in no way detracts from the high energy and carefree vibes the four create together. The instrumentation makes this an ideal song to perform live, which makes sense; live performance was, after all, the song’s genesis.
Though the band only just released the single and its music video this past March, the band has been playing it live for almost a year, giving them the opportunity to try a multitude of approaches. The crowds they play to have helped them hone it into a true piece of art, and when it came time to record, the band knew exactly what they wanted to do. It feels less like a brand new track and more like a favorite summer tune, the kind you crank up driving down the interstate with the windows down.
Del Pelson, who have previously opened for national acts like Kurt Travis and Brent Walsh, have a small handful of live shows you can catch this summer in the South Florida area. Their music is available to purchase on bandcamp and to stream on Spotify– a handful of singles, their World Wide EP, and their self-titled album. Summer playlists will find that “Heather Lou” (and all of Del Pelson’s music) fits in well alongside tracks from bands like Vampire Weekend, Fat Night, Arctic Monkeys, and Phantom Planet.
5/30 Propaganda – Lake Worth, FL
6/1 Bougainvilleas – Miami, FL
6/5 Bayside Marketplace – Miami, FL
7/6 Grandview Public Market – West Palm Beach, FL
8/7 Bayside Marketplace – Miami, FL