By Cynthia Gross
Earlier this month, D.C.-based post-hardcore band Smokin’ on Planes released their latest single, “Enigma.” The song’s melodic, retro-tinged sound coupled with an exploration of existential themes reveals the certainty of uncertainty within our lives while showcasing some of the band’s best work to date.
Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Nick Galasso explained that “Enigma” questions “how well we actually know the people in our lives – even the people who are closest to us.” He cites Kim Deal’s Pixies-era bass lines in addition to early 60s surf rock as the song’s musical influences. Ben Dennisen (bass), Allen Mosenkis (lead guitar), and Ryan Damico (drums) round out the band’s lineup.
“Every person who’s ever lived is an entire universe within a body,” Galasso added. “We’re so explicitly complex. If that’s the case, then how well can anyone really know us? Even our lovers and parents. So, the song is capturing this idea that instead of deep knowledge of another person, we’re really just an enigma to one another.”
The rhythm driven chorus of “Enigma” is feels nostalgic and evasive, which aligns with the element of mystery at the core of the song. “The waves still crash / Like thunder on the beach / It’s an enigma / The dust in my eyes / Puts your hands just out of reach / It’s an enigma,” Galasso sings against a shimmery, power-pop backdrop. “It’s an enigma” acts as a motif, the phrase listeners will instinctively hold onto long after the song ends.
Lyrics – including “I can’t die because I was never born” and “made up places are better than living” – consider the divide between dreams and reality that humans often experience in their lives. Galasso notes that he was inspired by the Buddhist idea of the perpetual transformation of the universe, which functions as a continuum.
“The notion that we’re each discrete individuals disconnected from one another and everything else in the universe is really a human construction. If, in reality, we are the universe itself, then the notion of being born and dying doesn’t really make any sense. It only contributes to the degree to which we’re just enigmas.”
“Enigma,” which follows “I Got Time” and “Oblivion,” poses more questions than it answers and fittingly so. There are many things we will never understand about life, about those we hold dear, and even about ourselves. With their signature thoughtful and authentic songwriting, Smokin’ on Planes embraces the great unknown, and there’s something profoundly captivating about that.
Go see Smokin’ on Planes live at one of their upcoming shows, including The Public Option (Aug. 7), The Pocket (Aug. 12), and DC9 (Aug. 27). Check out the lyric video for “Enigma” below, and find more great music on the Alchemical Records Multigenre Mixture playlist on Spotify or YouTube.
Maryland-based singer-songwriter Cynthia Gross seeks to inspire an awakening to all we are and all we can become. With a passion for language in all of its forms and more than a decade of experience as a professional ghostwriter, she is a light seeker who understands the power of each individual’s voice to create positive, meaningful change.
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