Alice Merton – Hero

Hero is Merton’s latest single following on from April’s Vertigo and is a more measured affair. It sees an interesting palate of sounds and a very catchy chorus but is ultimately more solid than spectacular.

Beginning with a melody best described as theremin-esque, Merton’s vocals then reinforce this with the lines: “Sometimes I wish I could be the hero in your story.” The opening is claustrophobic with both the instrumental and vocals incredibly closely matched, this opens out into a verse where the track really starts to move forward. 

The transition in dynamics is very well worked. Electronic beats and synth sounds give the track more and more space until fluttering keys and stabs of electric guitar bring in the chorus. It’s a strong but economical hook: “All this time, I’ve been wasting my mind, I’ve been wasting my mind.” Merton’s vocals are solid with shades of Florence Welsh and whilst I’m not entirely sure what “wasting my mind” means, in the context of the track, combined with the rest of instrumentation, it seems to make a lot of sense. Sort of a John Mayer, Why You Know Love Me kind of thing.

The lyrics throughout the rest of the track speak to the breakdown of a relationship as Merton ponders whether it makes sense to continue trying to “save them from themselves”. The frustration is palpable throughout and the track finishes by returning to the opening phrase, reiterating this feeling of stagnation. 

There are some nice backing vocals introduced in the second verse which give some variety and prevent it from re-treading the exact lines of the first, before a nice double chorus gives the listener more time to enjoy that hook. 

This is a good offering; it perhaps suffers unfairly from the timing of its release coming after the energy and theatre of Vertigo but in a live setting it will still fit very nicely. 

Words: Matthew Dougherty

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