“Best In Show” is the most recent single from Sedona‘s debut EP Rearview Angel, arriving on October 23 via Terrible Records.
It should come as no surprise that we’re big Sedona fans around here. Only three weeks ag,o we encouraged you to check out “Crying On My Own,” the band’s lead single from their debut EP releasing a week from this Friday. You’d be forgiven for mistaking that title for a Robyn song, and it makes sense—both share a penchant for the kind of sparkly, 80s-inspired synth-bops expertly written and arranged to make you dance-cry. That’s pretty much been Sedona‘s modus operandi, at least since we first came across singer Rachel Stewart‘s project a year ago with the single “More Love,” an absolute jam that just might sound more like early Madonna than early Madonna herself. The first words of that track read almost like a mission statement: “Did you believe we could last forever? Couldn’t you feel us running out of time?”
Today, Los Angeles-based Sedona is back with another taste of their upcoming release—the thrilling, understated “Best In Show” —and it’s a bit different from what might be expected. Now that Stewart has filled out her project with a full band (with Merilyn Chang on keys, Claire Gilb on guitar, Margaux Bouchegnies on bass, and Tia Cestaro on drums), the feel isn’t quite the Jepsen-esque sugar rush of her earlier tracks. Instead, as the song begins with a slinky bass line, slowly strummed minor-key guitar chords, and a gentle drum beat, the current vibe is much more chill. And melodically, Stewart‘s dreamy, subtly expressive vocals are (still) filled with hooks of the loveliest variety.
Taking the familiar concept of “making it in Hollywood” as its subject matter, “Best In Show” is a celebration of all those southern-California denizens dreaming of celebrity. It must be exhausting—and disheartening—going from audition to audition, sending in demo after demo, and not achieving the kind of success (and within the timeframe) one might have visualized. Stewart is empathetic to this and urges them, in the softly anthemic chorus, to: “Throw it in the ba / No reply from Hollywood today / Throw it in the bay / Watch it float away and cruise on!”
It’s an empowering sentiment, to be sure, one that the band describes as “learning to laugh at yourself, not caring what others think of you, relinquishing approval from those around you, and becoming exactly who to be and who you want to be on your own terms.” This idea becomes even more evident when watching the accompanying video in which Stewart assumes the persona of a half-dozen different women, straddling the line between glamorous and gauche as she mugs for the (Hollywood) camera.
For the first half or so, the song remains in relatively standard indie-pop territory, sharing company with fellow HighClouds regulars Men I Trust, Kate Bollinger, and Barrie. But one of the most unexpected moments occurs right at 1:42, when drummer Cestaro uses her ride cymbal to briefly switch from steady rhythm to swing—completely altering the feel of the track for only four seconds—before returning to the original beat. It’s easy to overlook the impact of these two bars upon first listen. But not only does it work with the thematic conceit of the song—switching styles as a metaphor for changing character—it also foreshadows the second half of “Best In Show” wherein the style continues to gradually shift to the point where, at about 3:15, it becomes an almost entirely new song: slower, dreamier, gauzier, nearly Lynchian.
Sedona has produced a tiny triumph of a pop song, a confident, catchy, unassuming, and self-aware delight that makes a statement and warrants repeat listening. We couldn’t be more excited for the rest of the Rearview Angel EP to drop next week – don’t forget to pre-order it – and until then, please enjoy “Best In Show” below.