The Dutch rock band Paceshifters is roaring back into the music scene with a fresh sound, look, and record label. Known for their electric live performances, loyal fanbase, and passionate vulnerability, Paceshifters embraces a new era without compromising their best qualities. Their dark, urgent sound comes to the forefront in their January release “Different Man.”

The table served, the candles alight/A normal day, to begin the night

“Different Man” is a brooding, hypnotic track. It definitely deserves a spot on your sad alternative playlist. It’s grounded in strong, pulsating drums and a looping guitar melody. The vocals build off the band’s distinct, raw sound, and fall a bit unevenly along the sonic spine of the song. This disjointed effect creates an unsettling but addictive quality – a rising tension. Overall, the tone of the song is quite melancholy, expanding its emotional power throughout the song with a near explosion toward the end.

The sun is set behind the bridge, I see/A song is playing in the back

The chorus is marked by swelling strings and a change of “pace” (Ha! See what I did there?). Paceshifters takes their time with the chorus, digging into each moment with attention and sentimentality. The following verse becomes more energetic, more hopeful than the first, and transitions smoothly into the final chorus where they break from the song’s pattern. At this point, the vocals hop up an octave and showcase the overwhelming emotion and trademark angst of the band’s lead vocalist. The final section of the song is unarguably the most powerful. The vocal storytelling aligns with the narrative arc to devastating effect. It will give you the feeling of driving through your hometown, finally making peace with an old friend, and giving up on an old dream – all at once.

This sparkling voice you’ve never shown before/Now grab the tools, rebuild it all

What intrigues me most about this song is its dualistic storytelling. On a base level, “Different Man” explores childhood and fatherhood, changing relationships, new beginnings, and what it means to build and reconstruct a life. The music video features home video clips interspersed with modern shots of band members playing instruments or singing. Throughout the video, band members build the treehouse for the child, all while singing about becoming a “different man” and a better father. Many of the lyrics are deeply personal, with one line even name dropping the main vocalist: “‘Cause hope’s not lost beyond recall/So be the dad we shortly had, Paul.” But while the song clearly reflects the speaker’s intention to become a better father, it also alludes to Paceshifter’s musical rebirth. Plenty of the lines seem to have double meanings: “You came home with a brand new plan” and “This sparkling voice you’ve never shown before/Now grab the tools, rebuild it all” refer both to the father narrative and the changes in the band.

Don’t ever be scared to drive home from work

“Different Man” examines the idea of “understanding” and “remembering,” concepts which go hand in hand. The final section of the song carries both a desperation and a blind conviction that things will get better, particularly when the lyrics repeat again and again: “We’ll understand.” The act of remembering is often a desperate attempt at understanding the past. You turn a memory over in your hands again and again, cataloguing the differences between then and now, trying to make sense of it – in this final section of the song, the speaker  sounds like he is trying to convince himself as well as the person he’s addressing that someday, everything will make sense. “Different Man” is an emotional tribute to change, potential, and relationships – and it marks a new beginning for Paceshifters.

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