Guitarist Serge Meulenberg together with singer-songwriter and producer Harald Bruijstens, are two individuals from different musical backgrounds, and different generations who create a signature sound of melodic dance and pop tunes built on vibrant guitar riffs and captivating vocals. Their mission, as the project called Don’t Skip, is to make beautiful things and grow in the process to become better songwriters, better producers and better people. The collaboration between Harald and Serge started a couple of years ago when both were going through a rough patch, dealing with loss and feelings of depression. The music that they co-created had a therapeutic effect, producing a shimmer of hope.
Don’t Skip have just recently dropped their latest single, entitled “Symphony”. What makes this track so compelling is its palpable sense of urgency, its insistence that everything hinges on a single crucial moment, when you need to take hold of and own your own life.
“Don’t go down roads people tell you to. Find your own way even if it’s hard. Don’t play mind games, they will fool you to. Stay true to who you are,” sings featured vocalist Stan Smeets (Hard2Get), known from the 9th season of The Voice of Holland. His voice underscored by the shimmering jangle of Serge’s guitar. “Don’t just write a song, but compose your own symphony,” he concludes.
Due to Don’t Skip’s knack for great singalong hooks and energetic, but smooth guitar-driven pop, the heightened reality of the song’s lyrics doesn’t come across as an exaggeration. Instead it feels like heartfelt advice, from someone who has lived those experiences.
Writing catchy but intelligent pop music is hard work, but Don’t Skip easily prove their musical chops on “Symphony”. The single exhibits many of the same things that makes this genre so compelling at times, and execution-wise Don’t Skip never misses the mark.
In typical Don’t Skip fashion, the guitars are glossy, the beat is bouncy, the mellifluous and soulful vocals appear in abundance, and their general inventiveness within the pop art-form is explored effectively once more.
Like most of Don’t Skip’s lyrics, “Symphony” is both meaningful and beautifully poetic in its crafting, making the song feel inspiring while its melody is uplifting. Harald Bruijstens’ persuading songwriting ethos comes across gracefully in the song, which has both buoyancy and introspection built-in.
A record which thrives on evoking feeling and catharsis, while remaining committed to pop’s spring-heeled bounce, on “Symphony” Don’t Skip have managed to deftly build an all-embracing song.
Stan’s voice is typically very distinct and a pleasure to hear, and he really excels when bringing listeners into emotional moments, without the need for overplayed melodrama or vocal histrionics. On the other hand, Serge’s guitar rings out loud and clear forming a dynamic backdrop, as well as filling the spaces in-between the vocal melody.
Overall, “Symphony” is a great single, with quality vocals and music all the way through, and where Serge Meulenberg and Harald Bruijstens’ artistic visions shine brightly. All of which makes “Symphony” an entertaining pop single that’s easy to throw on and listen to, and which you could get something deep and emotive from, at the same time.
It’s interesting to note that “Symphony” is the second single in 2021 from a series of four tracks that were created with the support of the Dutch music investment fund (investeringsfondsmuziek) by copyright authority Buma Stemra, and the ministry of education (minOCW). With this support, Don’t Skip was able to hire regional singers who loved to do the work in these pandemic times.