Without the reminder of Modern Love Child being a relatively recent act, it’s easy to mistake the brainchild of singer-songwriter Johnny Shane as something born out of post-punk revival’s heyday. His newest single, “On Read,” reaffirms that potential confusion, booming at the same frequencies as a garage rock band that gets noise complaints at every gig they perform.
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After living in any and every major city you could imagine, the now Miami-based Shane often discusses love in his songs like the name would suggest, just not the head-over-heels variety. “On Read” similarly pains at the thought of admitting romantic emotions while delivering the same infectious alt-rock croons that have been present in most of his singles so far.
At first opening to a poor lo-fi recording of unintelligible speaking, Shane bursts onto the song purposefully rough around the edges and, by the sound of it, shouts through a speakerphone. His slightly whiny way of singing adds to the angst already present in lines such as “I should have left you on read,” pulling you closer to his struggle even if you can’t relate to his level of contrite.
Besides using the relatively modern scenario of leaving someone “On Read” to say you’re not interested, Shane laces the track with that classic alt-rock sound of the early 2000s. The drums, in particular, are so loud they must be aiming to rupture an eardrum or two. That, alongside an equally vintage-sounding guitar, contrasts the love-jaded message repurposed for today’s age and directed toward the chronically online instead of the hopeless romantics throwing rocks up a window.
On top of falling into the alt-rock stratosphere, the single doubles as something of an alternative love song, where Shane refuses to admit his feelings and doesn’t want anyone thinking he’s a “lover boy,” as he puts it. But love gets the best of him, no matter how many times he wishes he’d ignore those messages. The instrumental itself doesn’t get the best of him, which shows his ability not to get lost in the noise and still come out on the other end as the standout.
Words: David Sosa
“On Read” by Modern Love Child is out on all streaming services. For more on new music and live shows, follow him on his Instagram.