Textural presence isn’t something that most critics would describe as being essential to making a good club song; the fact of the matter is that those types of intricacies are relegated to the highbrow alternative realm of western pop music more often than not, but this isn’t stopping Cristal Carrington from breaking off something truly provocative and physical in her new single “Another Way of Life.” Bruising and brawny in all the right departments, “Another Way of Life” has the cosmetics of a nightclub anthem but the sonic depth of something a little more sophisticated, and that’s precisely why it caught my attention this November. 

BANDCAMP: https://cristalcarrington.bandcamp.com/

There’s a lot of dissonance in the initial harmony we find in this track, but it feels almost intentionally chaotic from where I sit. Rather than pushing all of our focus towards the barebones melodicism she caresses with her voice, Carrington is choosing to instead put additional emphases on the contrast – thus making it possible for us to appreciate her flexibility whilst never losing sight of her consistency as a vocalist. “Another Way” has a surprisingly strong linguistic twist that colorizes the beat beautifully, and none of its detail happened by accident – it’s all born of unadulterated discipline. 

SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/cristal-carrington

The groove here is really sexy, though I would say that I don’t think it’s being driven by the percussive presence in the mix exclusively. Everything, and I really do mean everything in this track has a larger than life persona in the grander scheme of things, and while the instrumental edging is some of the fiercest I’ve heard out of a melodic pop singer’s output in 2020, it never becomes so potent as to make it difficult for the audience to hear the gilded harmonies at the center of the mix. Meticulousness is essential to making something work in contemporary music, and this single verifies as much. 

This bass is rather indulgent in comparison to what some of her closest rivals in the mainstream would have gone with, but I suppose I can understand why Carrington would look at this component of the backend as being essential much as the drums and her own voice are. It certainly makes for an overwhelming pulse behind the main beat, and even if it translates as being a little old school, I don’t see where that would be a big enough issue to repel listeners away from everything else in this release. 

APPLE MUSIC: https://music.apple.com/us/album/another-way-of-life-single/1535527475?i=1535527686&ign-gact=3&ls=1

An excellent introduction to her sound for those who haven’t been keeping up with her immense campaign in 2020, “Another Way of Life” is a great look for the seductive Cristal Carrington and a compositional benchmark that I can’t wait to see and hear her pursue in future releases. The club scene might be a little quiet this fall, but with the powerful beats tracks like this one are emitting at the moment, something tells me that dancers missing the heat of the midnight melody will be satisfied with what they find here in the meantime. 

Garth Thomas