By Charley Ruddell
In our darkest hours, hitting a low isn’t what defines us; it’s how we handle the low that does. When Alex Goldberg hit a low, he asked life’s most stoic questions in search of answers, despite how evasive and impossible they might be.
On the Brooklyn-based composer’s new single “Stay the Same,” from his forthcoming debut album Loste, Goldberg addresses his own existential struggles through the variegated lense of jagged baroque pop; think Sufjan’s 50 States-era, arranged by Andrew Bird at his most-menacing. From the song’s anxious introduction—a fleet of hurried cellos and Sgt. Pepper’s-era schizophrenic voices—Goldberg brings to light the sensational rush of an oncoming panic attack; just when the dissonant strings approach tunnel vision, they resolve in a simple breath. It’s a theme that fluctuates in the song, and one that sheds light on his own empirical perspective.
Goldberg hit his low during his 20s when a streak of anxiety left him sleep deprived, isolated, and starving. After passing out on the job and a subsequent ER trip, he was left to reassemble his pieces by asking the hardest questions to answer. “Will I go on?” he spouts in a cavernous falsetto (Caribou’s Dan Snaith, anyone?). “Will I ever change?” follows, his voice floating in tandem with the strings. A glimpse of speculative acceptance reveals itself in his final question: “Or will I stay the same?” In these cynical, unsettled moments, Goldberg shows shows his earnest, yet profound sense of character, sharing a likeness to John Cale, cunningly operatic and deranged all the same.