BURNSWith the release of the new single, “No One Else,” UK artist BURNS (featuring Until the Ribbon Breaks) has struck a balance between the worlds of R&B, crunk, dubstep, and house that offers listeners a musical equivalent of “Choose Your Own Adventure.” 

For the R&B fan, the lyrics are thoughtful and engaging, invoking themes of betrayal, narcissism, and death. This darker approach is a departure from the more standard “love-n-loss” lyricism that has become a hallmark of vapid R&B music, forever beating a dead heart, so-to-speak.  

Ambient background chants add a spiritual element to the mix, highlighting the ethereal quality of both the synth-heavy composition and such intense lyrics as, “[…] faked my own death. Tell you a secret with my fake last breath.” 

The track offers a more deeply explored identity for the singer than most mainstream compositions. In this case, a man declares his need to shed the identity he created for a now-failed relationship, asserting through the chorus, “You only thought about yourself.” 

The vocals are both quiet and powerful, reminiscent of such artists as OneRepublic and Sam Sparro, offering an evocative, raspy R&B quality with synth-beats that bring to mind such hits as Usher’s “Love in This Club” and Justin Timberlake’s, “My Love,” featuring T.I. Considering that BURNS (Matthew Burns) has close ties to Calvin Harris, whose production skills facilitated such massive dance hits as Rihanna’s “We Found Love” and the Florence Welch (of Florence and the Machine) sung “Sweet Nothing,” the vibe of “No One Else” is refreshingly subtle. But what it lacks in heavy-handed, well-crafted hook, it makes up for in layering and tone. 

“No One Else” combines elements of crunk, most popularized by Ciara, current new wave Europop infused into the mainstream recently by artists like La Roux, Robyn, and Lykke Li, and it even utilizes a hooky distortional pattern heard in the tracks of producer-turned-headliners such as Skrillex. 

All in all, “No One Else” displays the multifaceted artistry necessary in tracks with high production value not to sacrifice substance for technological savvy. And, most importantly, it can work as either a slow-jam befitting a velvety city lounge or an emotional interlude within a trippy rave set.