Review: "H​.​P​.​S" by Des Roses

Des Roses, sideways, strange ways.jpg

"H.P.S." by Des Roses is a song I fell for while listening to DKFM (online radio I highly reccomend). It's off their Sideways, Strange Ways EP. The entire song is beautiful, but for me, this one is all about the chorus.

It enters with a melancholic organ sound reminiscent of Beach House. The descending chords evoke a slow, silent feeling.

A cymbal wash and we’re in. Toms beat a slow tempo funeral march over bright synth pads, and crashes accentuate an intense, introspective state. A guitar with heavy delay supports, tuned to the hollow sound of The Cure.

The verse is deliciously minimal; whole note synth bass and dark electronic percussion, all with heavy reverberation. The female vocals are subtle and cryptic:

“You’ve been somewhere in the crowd // No one has to know your soul”

A lower male joins in, and rhythm alterations break the march. The energy dissipates completely, but only briefly… 

Coordinated crash, bass, and grandiose synth enter with drama on the scale of a Arcade Fire, but with more saturated effects. They support a simple, yet whimsically catchy chorus: 

“You know that there is nothing like you, I can be myself // There is nothing with you, where I should run away”

The vocal melody and off-beat hits are reminiscent of parts I’ve heard before, but that I know I couldn't place. I think that’s a sign of great songwriting.

The song settles down again into an even spacier verse with oscillating synth. This part gradually escalates into an awesome bridge on a major key resolve, using cascading string pads and multiple voices with octave unison vocals. 

There are rare occasions where a song gives me chills. When I first heard H.P.S I had it on repeat for a few days.

My only only critique is that transitions feel a little choppy, like the movement out of the bridge and into the final chorus, where a high synth pad is abruptly cut. The chorus, which is very uplifting, fades into darkness with a minor tag, which felt unnecessary.

What “H.P.S.” does really well is dynamic contrast. Verses are silent, controlled, slow, and the anticipation generated verges on manipulation. 

Des Roses is a group in Nantes, France. You can listen to H.P.S. and the entire 3-song EP by Des Roses, Sideways, Strange Ways (2016), here on Bandcamp. They released a remix of H.P.S. on St. Vincent (2017), but personally I feel the 2016 mix is better.

Des Roses: Facebook / YouTube / Twitter / Instagram

They also have a music video up for "H.P.S." on YouTube: