“Get Closer” single-video by Arina Mai

Ascending from the silence like a divine force that was always meant to rise from this earth and return to the heavens from which it was originally sent, we discover the opening bars of “Get Closer” adorned with a melody as rich as it is palatable to anyone who loves piano-driven pop music. Even before Arina Mai has begun to sing in this, her new single, there’s a sense of anticipation that accompanies every passing, unspoken beat in the music. As Mai starts serenading us with a vocal as soft as silk and her lyrics begin taking hold of us by the chest, there’s nothing that can be done to stop the momentum she’s sparking – we’re best to buckle-up and prepare for a one of a kind pop performance.

Mai’s vocal is absolutely stunning, but it gets a lot of assistance in the harmony from the gilded keys that seem to shadow every word our leading lady is singing to us. She’s not necessarily reserved in her demeanor, but she definitely holds back from giving us the full scale of her capabilities as a singer until we’re in the arms of the chorus, where she comes undone like a pillar beneath an aging building that cannot stand any longer. The dam of catharsis that she bursts open infects anyone listening to the song with its freeing emotionality, and by the time we hit the halfway point in “Get Closer,” we indeed feel as though we’re getting all the more intimate with Arina Mai and her narrative here.

The instrumentation is startlingly heavy as we get closer to the finish line in this track, but there isn’t a lot of bassline excess for us to sift through and rediscover Mai’s main melody. Everything is kept light and feathery on the backend, with the front instead bearing the burden of carrying all the sonic weight from the vocal and keys through the speakers and into the air around us. Ultimately, I should mention, this yields a lot more engaging an experience for listeners who aren’t necessarily interested in the plasticized, oft-synthy sound that contemporary pop frequently relishes, as it produces a version of “Get Closer” that is accessible to the college radio crowd as much as it is the teen beat audience simply looking for some melodic moxie.

We come to the end of “Get Closer” in a tizzy of vocal harmonies that suddenly wrap into a singular strand of aural gold before returning to the silence once more. When the dust settles and we’re able to process the totality of what we’ve been listening to in the last few minutes, there’s no getting around the fact that everything this song does is designed to showcase the unadulterated lustiness of our singer’s voice. Arina Mai is a singer and songwriter who faces a lot of stiff competition from her European brethren in the underground at the moment, but going off of what I’ve just heard in “Get Closer,” she’s not about to back down from the challenge of finding her own fame without a fight.

Gwen Waggoner