PREMIERE: Xander Singh Puts Synth-Pop—and His Life—in “ICU”

The former Passion Pit member confronts the loss of love and his sense of self on his new album Muffin.

Xander Singh lost everything in a way that is utterly familiar and mundane and no less devastating for it. After parting ways with Passion Pit, he went through a painful breakup, then his health began to fail him. Loss of job, love, and self: these are all woefully common events, and as they do for many, they stripped Singh down to the very bones of his being. Most people struggle to get back to themselves. Singh made Muffin.

That would be the name of his solo debut, a nominally synth-pop record whose joyful core has been hollowed out, leaving Singh with a semi-arid space in which to recover. If that sounds morbid or self-indulgent, never fear: the openness of “ICU,” which we’re premiering this morning, gives Singh plenty of room to work, and he takes full advantage of it. Despite the high whirr of the song’s lead synth lines, his vocals offset the siren with a dripping kind of sadness, his rounded baritone filling in the holes where a thumping rhythm might go. Don’t let that airiness fool you into thinking Singh has it all figured out, though. “‘ICU’ is about being unable to escape your emotions,” he says. “The feeling of being followed by them everywhere you go, and learning to accept the weight on your shoulders as you walk through life while trying to reconcile your past in order to keep moving forward.”

It’s strange, and compelling, to hear the genre flipped on its head, but then again, it’s strange to have your life flipped on its head, too. Hear how Xander Singh made his way out below.

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