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Photo by Andrea Vargas (Rolling Stone) 

Luke Hemmings' New Lead Single "Shakes" is a Dreamy Journey Through Lonely Reverie

Abby AndersonMar 7, 2024

Two and a half years out from his breathtaking solo debut album When Facing the Things We Turn Away From, Luke Hemmings has returned with "Shakes." The track is the reflective lead single from his upcoming second solo project Boy, set to be released on April 26 on Arista Records.

A glittering, melancholy indie-alternative dream, "Shakes" sees Hemmings in a moment of seclusion, craving connection, both with himself and those who console him. WFTTWTAF producer and co-writer Sammy Witte returns to Hemmings' second solo endeavor, aiding in audibly illustrating a cold, dark city night, that moves at a faster pace than allows for the solace that Hemmings is yearning for.

"Shakes" opens with Hemmings seeking an escape from his own emotions in the blur of quickly-passing time: "Lost in the morning/Time starts to crawl/Can we share the lonely/If my heart is small?" But, when mixed with the withdrawal of anxiety, loneliness can bring about "melancholy" feelings: the term that Luke used to define the full Boy EP on his March 6 Instagram live that celebrated the release of the single. The synthy piano-calm of the verse concludes with his last plea for a diversion from his pain: "Is it better to feel this/or feel nothing at all?".

Luke's growth as a songwriter, and as an individual, is palpable in the second verse of "Shakes." He's now diverting from the themes of his band 5 Seconds of Summer, notably their earlier projects like 2015's Sounds Good Feels Good and 2018's Youngblood, which romanticized and rhapsodized over the glamour of the nightlife scene. Hemmings has embraced his innate sentimentality by aspiring to hold on to something more connective than his young adult life: "Can't help but chase you/My butterfly/I wanna go out in my sleep now/So I don't feel no pain/The city seems to move on all the same."

The chorus of "Shakes" is a wistful haze of longing, with Hemmings' easy falsetto echoing "Honey, I just wanna be yours, wanna be yours/Inside your dreams tonight/Oh no, oh no/Can't shake this feeling." The atmospheric production leans into a sound defined by Hemmings' own "Saigon" and "Baby Blue," with impressive vocal layering and shimmering low-tone guitar synths. Later in the track, the slight lyrical switch to "Boy, I just wanna be yours" beautifully depicts Luke's building desperation of that desire for emotional intimacy in his isolation.

For a first taste of what's to come on Boy, "Shakes" is glimmering and heart-wrenchingly raw, with mesmerizing alternative production that has already become a staple in  Hemmings' solo ventures.  From its escapist verses to its uncertain conclusion, "Shakes" establishes Luke Hemmings as a master of existential musical melancholia.

Pre-order Boy here, and keep up with Luke Hemmings here.