Occurrence's latest single "The Remote Past Tense" is an atmospheric juggernaut of loss, longing, and messy emotions. The trio wields a dynamic blend of shoegaze guitars, surreal synths, and ethereal strings.
The minute the vocals enter, Occurrence establishes their own singular approach. Rather than the breathy coos of many a dream pop act, the main singer sings in a plainspoken alto, delivering line after line of brutal clarity: "The last thing I want to say / Is that I never loved you / But it just isn't true." As she chronicles love found in "storefront reflections" and "passing cars," the instrumentation builds density and dissonance. Synths buzz, strings keen, drums pound, and the guitars snarl with distortion.
This isn't the spacey drift of a stereotypical hazy melody; it's a controlled cacophony welding ecstatic noise to pure emotion. The lyrical scenes come in rapid succession, impressionistic flashes of intimacy both tender and resentful: "I loved you on sand / On hot black asphalt", "I loved you too much / And it wasn't perfect / But all the same, it was". As the music grows more chaotic, Cat repeats, "The last thing I want to say / Is that we fucked it all up / And I'll never know why". The frenzied climax suggests the jarring, contradictory feelings of a breakup, the dull pain of fatal flaws and failings coming into sharp focus. Lines like this show how relatable and close to the listener the song is, as we've all passed through a similar experience at one point.
"The Remote Past Tense" is a startling evolution for Occurrence. Their previous releases mined a darker, heavier vein, but this single sees them embracing fragility and haziness while sacrificing none of their intensity. Based on this single, Occurrence's upcoming album appears poised to expand the sonic palette of indie rock and feature compelling, moving songs with widespread listener appeal.
Occurrence is a band seizing their moment to twist familiar sounds into something new. Close your eyes, hit play on any streaming site you like, and let the sound of "The Remote Past Tense" carry you away. Then follow Occurrence on social media to hear more from their ambitious upcoming album. If the rest of the album is as arresting as this single, it's sure to be a standout release of 2023.