“Promises” by Buffalo Paradise

There’s something refreshing about listening to a song like “Promises” by Buffalo Paradise. Whether it’s the clean, crisp simplicity of the production or the captivating melodies, this song doesn’t need too many bells and whistles to be great. The quality of the vocals combined with the instinctual songwriting choices creates a perfect Pop-Rock hit.

To start with, the guitar riff is not only well-written but noticeably well-recorded. Any guitarist knows that getting an uninhibited, clean sound in a recording can be so difficult, but Buffalo Paradise nails it. When the vocals come in, the melody and tone cooperate so well with the guitar riff, it’s like they were made for each other. The two countermelodies wind around one another, sometimes doing something vastly different and sometimes meeting for a few sublime seconds. This proverbial dance continues until a brief yet practical pre-chorus develops into the chorus.

Here, the instrumentation swells into a satisfying fullness, filling in any cracks with a wash of guitar, drums, and bass. As the singer declares, “Promises that she makes, rip and tear away,” the emotional gravity of the song is centered. Each line contains some kind of caution against the perils of making promises. Although the general feeling of the song remains light-hearted, these lyrics add in a tinge of angst.

After another verse and chorus, complete with some Wah-drenched guitar noodling, the bridge rolls around with a few unexpected chord changes. Just like any good bridge should, it departs from the mood of the rest of the song, with darker lyrics and darker accompaniment. The last chorus erupts as the listener is reminded one last time that promises don’t always mean what they seem. A final hit fades into silence, organ and guitar dwindling with a trail of vibrato. This undeniably fun tune captures the betrayal and danger associated with promises in a package that was somehow danceable, mainstream, and cheerful. “Promises,” is a prime example of how strong songwriting can steal the show.

Written by Alyce Lindberg





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