Music / Premieres
Aji - Streetlights
Words by James Lynch
Thursday 31st March, 2022
On his new single ‘Streetlights’, rising Brisbane/Meanjin songwriter Aji invites listeners into his expansive world of hypnotic and enthralling indie-pop, offering up a glorious three-minute dose of escapism.
Back with a third single under his freshly minted Aji moniker, Tom Briese has returned with perhaps his most crafty dose of lush indie-pop yet. While his songcraft definitely holds up, ‘Streetlights’ shines most thanks to Tom’s sophisticated production ability - sitting in the woozy middle ground between lo and hi-fi, the track comes bathed in an expansive nostalgic sheen, yet simultaneously sounds delicate enough to add a cosy, intimate edge to the soundscape.

After introducing itself with a swirl of acoustic guitar and glowing synths, ‘Streetlights’ blossoms open into a haze of winding guitar leads and effervescent keys atop a reliably unhurried backbeat. While the layers clear for Aji’s sleepy-eyed vocals to chime through, there’s still a constant sense of movement behind him - synths continually swell and dissipate while sticky basslines meander languorously, creating a kaleidoscopic backdrop to underscore the evocative lyrics. Although the track leans on nostalgia as a key theme, Aji doesn’t simply rely on sentimentality to get his point across; there’s a radiant touch of illusion to the tune, thanks to his slightly ambiguous vocals and the forever fleeting instrumental layers, which makes the listen feel vivid but intangible, taking us on a journey that’s as contemplative as it is transportive.

Speaking about the track, Aji shares “For some reason I started getting nostalgic about childhood family holidays. ‘Streetlights’ references a few of these. When I was really young, I remember we went on a long driving holiday down to Canberra from Brisbane and listened to Daddy Cool's 'Eagle Rock' and a cassette tape audiobook on repeat in my dad's Holden Station wagon. This song makes me think of those memories where I feel at home and like I’m in the right place. It’s about wanting to feel comfortable with what I’m doing in life and who I’m around. I’ve felt confused and unsure about where I really belong and keep catching myself retreating inwards after periods of trying to invite people into my life. I want to move away from that pattern and get to a point where I feel at home with everything.”

'Streetlights' is out in all the usual places today.