Must Peep Monday No. 6

Sandstorm // Mereba feat. J.I.D

The Spillage Village takeover continues.

“Sandstorm,” the lead single from Mereba’s fresh debut album The Jungle Is the Only Way Out, comes courtesy of a team effort from the up-and-coming artist and J.I.D. The two previously collaborated on “All Bad,” an aching, hushed confessional from J.I.D’s debut album The Never Story. “Sandstorm” reprises the same intimate atmosphere and themes of confrontation and honesty in relationships, and the pair once again deliver on all fronts.

Musically, “All Bad” is skeletal and sedated, always threatening to grind to a complete halt, paralleling the apathy and surrender J.I.D’s character feels. “Sandstorm” has a more encompassing, swaying rhythm that still maintains the same lonely, mournful atmosphere. The faster tempo doesn’t translate to more upbeat vibes, but rather emulates a situation that has spun out of either party’s control.

“Sandstorm” can almost be read as a sequel or prologue to “All Bad,” in which J.I.D confronts a lover with the truth that he’s just bad news. “Sandstorm,” by contrast, is more conversation than confession, as Mereba and J.I.D’s characters autopsy the husk of the crumbled relationship prophesied in “All Bad.” They make half-hearted attempts at compromise and reconciliation before confronting the helpless reality that they’re simply too volatile around each other to get along.

Too often, heartbreak songs are first-person woe-is-me tales, where the singer was the perfect partner and some heartless monster threw that all away. Problem is — picture-perfect pictures don’t reflect reality. An honest, mature story features flawed characters who make an effort, but ultimately, their core differences outlast the will to overcome them. Lines in “Sandstorm” like “I tried and tried and tried and tried” make it clear that both characters wanted the relationship to work, making it all the more sadder that it doesn’t.

The duet element is well-handled and explored. Mereba and J.I.D spend much of the track trading or echoing lines, emphasizing the conversational nature of the song. At times, they literally sing over each other, sharing and finishing each other’s sentences and sentiments. It’s a miserable, heartbreaking irony: They’re finally seeing eye-to-eye, but it’s taken the loss of their relationship, torched by disconnection and petty conflict, to find the necessary lucidity to save it. “Sandstorm” is a tale of too-little-too-late, a love jarred into clarity by its own death rattle.

Over a melancholy piano lead and murky, distant drums, Mereba and J.I.D showcase the chemistry and vulnerability that made “All Bad” such a standout track. Mereba barely needs to raise her voice to command the spotlight, and J.I.D makes it clear he’s got more under his belt than the skittery lyrical gymnastics he’s known for. The song is a brief three minutes, with just two verses, two choruses, and a fading outro: Much like the relationship it depicts, “Sandstorm” promises to last longer than it ultimately does and leaves you wanting more than it offers.

Watch out for our upcoming full review of The Jungle Is the Only Way Out for a roadmap through one of the most exciting releases of early 2019!

-Jonah Bird & Andrew Gonzales


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