If you’ve got the kind of vocal charisma that the up-and-coming indie-pop duo Migrant Motel has, you don’t have to invite a lot of the same bells and whistles that other acts rely on when making new material into your content – hence, the new single and music video “Shame” is sans such filler altogether. In leaving the fluff on the sidelines, this pair not only assert themselves as an act that doesn’t have time for the commerciality of a flagrantly passive pop movement in the underground today but illustrates a desire to be real with their audience that many similar musicians haven’t been comfortable committing to. “Shame,” despite its slightly LMFAO-influenced groove, has the makings of a ballad when we strip away a lot of the cosmetic finish here, and I think it’s just a taste of what these guys can do when they’ve got a smart hook to work with.  

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/migrantmotel/

With the beat being an understated element next to the melodic components of the song, it’s easy to see why some would get hung up on the cosmetic fireworks in this single – its bright harmonies, the kinship its players seem to share, even the ironic way the imagery in the video captures the emotion in the song as it stands by itself. I spent a couple of listens with “Shame” trying to determine whether it was the tonality of the instruments or the ease with which Migrant Motel commands over them that made the words they push forth so authentic; in the end, it only made sense to deem every point of expression here as valid as the others comprising the track.

WATCH THE VIDEO: https://fanlink.to/ShameMusicVideo

There’s a case to be made that this is the most well-polished and radio-ready piece of material that Migrant Motel recorded since dropping their provocative 2019 single “Keep it Down,” and though I agree with this argument in spirit, I don’t think it’s was driven by dreams of big sales by any means. There’s just too much of an anti-artificiality subtext to the narrative here for this to be true, and while I don’t deny that radio play was something the composers were considering when assembling the main hook in the chorus, this can be traced more to honest talent over tenacious aspirations for marketable gains.  

SMART URL: https://fanlink.to/MigrantMotelShame

“Shame” disappears into the silence from which it came ripping through almost too stealthily, leaving behind a void that makes me want to hear a complete album of material from this act if for no other reason than to get a little more poetic context. Migrant Motel has got a lot of competition coming their way from all sides of the industry at the moment, and while I don’t think it’s going to be an easy climb from the depths of the underground to the peak of the primetime mountaintop, this is a good way of letting critics like myself know exactly what they’re all about as an act. I’m very taken with this sound, and I don’t think I’ll be the only one with these sentiments heading into 2023. After all, talent like this hasn’t populated the mainstream end of alternative pop in a long time now, and it stands out especially well as this rather subpar year for the genre as a whole draws to a conclusion. 

Garth Thomas