With an acoustic guitar’s elegant chime, we’re hypnotized by the opening bars of “Dairy Queen Queen,” the new single from the one and only Sam Levin, and drawn towards the melodic centerpiece they’re pendulously clearing a path for. Levin starts to sing in his tuneful trademark vocal, and though his words are pointed and concise in tone, it’s almost difficult to understand what he’s saying to us in this moment.
His voice is so homespun and relaxed that he could be serenading us with the nutrition facts on the side of a box of cereal and still sound like a superstar here, but if we listen closely, we hear a heartwarming poeticism that has become a lot like a signature present in every Sam Levin composition released to us thus far. A pensive percussion dots the landscape in the background, but our ears are constantly being directed towards the sparks that the vocal harmonies are conjuring up right before us in real-time. There’s a fragility to Levin’s verse, a level of unguardedness that just wasn’t present in his last single, and it adds to the sensitive energy in the words immensely.
He’s singing in a stream of consciousness prose that isn’t as tethered to new school folk music as it is classical pop from the midcentury, and with his particular palate and skills as a vocalist, he couldn’t sound any more bold and colorful in his composing than he does in this single. “Dairy Queen Queen” concludes in a cloud of surreal strings that gallop into the ethers as if to suggest that this harmony isn’t ending but merely returning to where it was once conceived.
I was expecting a lot out of the new single from Sam Levin, but there’s no getting around the fact that this song exceeds anything that I would have anticipated to find here and then some. He’s come a long way in such a short amount of time, and with the melodic muscle-flexing that he’s doing in “Dairy Queen Queen” getting the attention that it is this September, I would place a hefty wager on his entering the global spotlight by the time the year expires.