‘Don’t Want the Phone to Ring’ from Ajay Mathur

Colors, tonal simplicity, and a sense of comradery that isn’t promoted in pop culture nearly as much as it should be; indeed, the backdrop for the new music video “Don’t Want the Phone to Ring” from Ajay Mathur is nothing to scoff at, but when attached with the melodic command of this singer/songwriter’s vocal it feels all the more powerful to absorb. Surreal but ultimately focused more on the substance of the songcraft above everything else, this music video is the right way to get introduced to Mathur’s sound, and if you ask me it makes for one of the more intriguing and provocatively pushy releases out of the underground this season.

There’s something honest about the way this player is coming after the subject matter at hand here; almost as though he’s been waging a war on the boredom and stresses of the world going back long before he ever set foot inside of a recording studio. Although not without a sexy beat and some high-style melodies here and there, “Don’t Want the Phone to Ring” is a song about its creator and his ability to capture the essence of a society in incredible need of a vacation from its worries, which makes this one of the smarter pop cuts you’re going to find this year in my opinion. 


Beyond the visuals we encounter in the music video, the lyrics that Ajay Mathur strings together so seamlessly allude to a passion that isn’t as politics-inspired as it is systemic of a life devoted to artistry and kinship. The folk-rock influences here run head-on into a poppy beat in the midsection of the track that at first seemed a little odd to me, but after a few listens I felt myself getting hypnotized by its swing and grasping a deeper emotional layer of the verses not audible to me in my initial sit-downs with the song and its video. The rhythm of the percussion maximizes the catharsis within the lyricism as Mathur comes undone from center stage, and while the production quality is noticeably DIY (in a good way, I should mention), it does the climax here plenty of favors by preserving the sonic integrity of every element as-is. 

Indie pop is having what some would call a second renaissance in 2023, and if you’re looking for the root of this new phase for the genre, I don’t think you need to search much further than the work of artists like Ajay Mathur. Mathur doesn’t try to be anything other than a street-wise poetic master of simple melodies in this song, and in doing so he leaves room for avant-garde trappings to slip into focus and warm even the most chilling of components inside the track and video. I want to hear more of the cerebral parts to “Don’t Want the Phone to Ring” in the future, and as long as he’s able to stay off of the commercialized synthetics that often get utilized in making a complete album when he drops the upcoming Talking Loud, I believe his is a name I’ll be hearing more of in the years still to come. 

Gwen Waggoner