PREMIERE: Hop in the Magic Bus with I Come to Shanghai’s “Stranger”
Journey through the past, darkly.
I Come to Shanghai come to you, whether you’re in China or not, via Athens, Georgia, though they initially hail from Oakland. That’s a bunch of different place names, to be sure, but but if their song “Stranger” is to be the arbiter, their truest home is only partly of this world. Which isn’t to say that the track lifts us up into the cosmos so much as it drags us back through time, in and out of space, signifiers and sounds from the past fifty-odd years of pop music history gathering like dust on a pickup as we move.
There are new-wave textures, Beach Boy harmonies. A surf-noir guitar crests occasionally. We make a detour through a chorus that may as well have been written by Hall and Oates. There is a lilting guitar solo that does a brief West African shimmy before eliding back into the synthesized chorus.
All of which sounds, frankly, like a mess, but in all of these sounds I Come to Shanghai find a similar kind of mood, a kind of artful exhaustion that never ceases to be compelling—there’s always another sound to discover, it suggests, along with the intertwined sense of exhilaration and intimidation that comes along with it.
“Stranger” is taken from Low Pressure, the band’s third record, which is out September 29. You can give it a listen below and pre-order the record here.