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Skinny Pelembe packs surprises into the hypnotic ‘Like a Heart Won’t Beat’

South African artist Skinny Pelembe doesn’t easily fit into any category or genre. That’s not to say, though, that his new song “Like a Heart Won’t Beat” isn’t easy to love. With a melody that starts out cool and steady holds you there nearly the whole way through – fronted by an ruddy, energetic piano riff and Pelembe’s compelling voice – the song’s almost hypnotic.

But then there’s other stuff going on in there, too.

“The idea for the piano on this came to me years ago, in Amsterdam,” he shares. “Didn’t know I’d had whatever it was I’d eaten until I started hallucinating, fast forward past seeing myself standing on the roof of the hotel next to me, and thinking I was in the film “a perfect storm” (actually just on a static Chinese all you can eat restaurant boat). Anyway, fast-forward past all that and I’m lying on a bed, seeing Clint Eastwood, playing those chords while he told me I’m ‘base level’ and not getting deep enough.”

And so, deep he goes.

Turns out that hypnotic melody is fuzzier than we think, and while its pull is strong it’s maybe not so steady after all. As the volume grows, lines start moving and cracks start cracking…before you know it, chaos takes over, with Pelembe’s guitar screaming and screeching and burning its way the end.

Unnerving? Maybe a little…OK, more than a little. But that’s part of what makes the song so fetching and many steps beyond your everyday pretty melody. And admit it, now you’re extra curious to spin the song again…and to hear what’s coming next.

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Skinny (real name Doya Beardmore) grew up in Doncaster, England. He released his first album Dreaming Is Dead Now in 2019. More recently he signed to Partisan Records, which puts him in the company of such labelmates as Fela Kuti, IDLES, and Fontaines D.C. “Like a Heart Won’t Beat” is his first release for Partisan, with a full album on the way in 2023.

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