“On Love (An Alternative Response to Almitra’s Request)” indulges in and subverts all tropes of indie music to create an almost perfect commentary on the genre while Ritt Momney sings about a breakup.
Listen: “On Love (An Alternative Response to Almitra’s Request)” – Ritt Momney
At first it sounds like any other acoustic song you’ve heard in an indie movie made with an extremely tight budget. Then you realise the singer’s voice reminds you of Wallows’ Dylan Minnette with hints of Alex Turner. Then the synths and drums come in and everything sounds complete – that is until pieces of Rutter’s voice are modulated and layered on each other, the acoustic guitar is gone, and the song turns on its head. As the song builds and more synths come in, you’re invested, intrigued, and not wanting it to end.
The song in question is “On Love (An Alternative Response to Almitra’s Request)” by the expertly named Ritt Momney, musical alter-ego of 19-year-old Jack Rutter. “On Love” is a single off Ritt Momney’s upcoming debut album Her and All My Friends, set for release on July 19th. It’s a tremendous accomplishment as a song, that, in just under three minutes, indulges in and subverts all tropes of indie music to create an almost perfect (and indirect) commentary on the genre while Rutter sings about a breakup.
A steady, constant strum of acoustic guitar opens the song as Rutter sings:
All the people who have told me,
That love will make me whole,
Love was with them in the moment,
Another mistake on my part,
I’m no savior in heart or in mind,
The deals people make and the love people trade,
Is this an art or a business venture?
Is your contest one I can enter?
I’m not expecting any love,
But just give me some fun in return,
Rutter’s lyrics are poignant, clever, and reflective, and once you realise just how good they are it almost makes sense that they’re accompanied by such simple instrumentation – you have no choice but to pay attention to his words and buy into his sentiment. Rutter shows an almost painful self-awareness as he sings “I’m no savior in heart or in mind“, and his skeptical idea of love is represented in the genius metaphor of the lines: “The deals people make and the love people trade/ Is this an art or a business venture?“. Having recently left a relationship, Rutter is left wondering if he ever knew what love was at all and is now looking for “fun”.
I don’t need my words revised,
By all these blue-faced red-penned writers,
She lifts the weight, I feel much lighter,
But is interaction lacking pain or passion,
Worth the time?
“On Love” starts to take a left turn when the guitar and voice stop and are briefly replaced by a synthesiser that introduces a choir of voices to accompany Rutter’s as well as added synthesisers to the verse. Here, Rutter gets a little deeper into his relationship saying that, despite it making him feel good, there was an air of indifference and a lack of feeling that permeated his relationship. As the lyrics get closer to his personal life, the song turns the sentiment into something abstract by deconstructing the line “She lifts the weight, I feel much lighter” with modulated voices, repetition of words, and the phrase being chopped in half (“she lifts the weight” and “I feel much lighter“) just like he and his significant other parted ways when the relationship ended. An experimental verse deconstruction comes so unexpectedly considering how simple the song was at the start that it’s at this moment that “On Love” starts showing you what it’s capable of, exciting you and keeping you hooked, anticipating what the song is going to pivot to next.
I need to find better ways,
To fill all these empty chairs,
I need some more disarray,
I need lots more love to share,
My patience left me in May,
I haven’t heard from him since,
But if you’ve got more to say,
I can tell him he’s needed,
She’s got some pretty new friends,
They make her angry sometimes,
If they take her clothes again,
She is gonna lose her mind,
I don’t think I should still be,
Concerned with her social life,
But while she’s clenching her teeth,
My tongue will hide behind mine
On its final segment, all elements of “On Love” – the acoustic guitar, the layered choir-like vocals, the synths, the modulated and chopped up vocal bit – come together like the big conclusion to a perfectly-paced piece. The song grows so much, but so discretely, that you only ever notice how big it has gotten after it unceremoniously slows to a halt. Lyrically, Rutter reflects upon his life and his ex’s post-breakup – his almost comical sincerity comes tinged with a stinging irony when he sings “My patience left me in May/ I haven’t heard from him since/ But if you’ve got more to say/ I can tell him he’s needed” and he’s craving to move on and find “more disarray” and “more love to share”. His ex, meanwhile, is living a rich social life with friends who, despite being “pretty” might make her “lose her mind”.
There’s something so clever about “On Love” that you only notice how truly great it is after its over and begging you to click play again. Jack Rutter isn’t shying away from being the traditional young, indie male musician, instead, he’s completely buying into it by taking most of the genre’s trademark items and putting them into one song: warm acoustic guitar? check, emotionally unaffected vocals? check, witty lyrics? check, song about a breakup? check, synthesisers for days? check, layered vocals as the song grows? check, modulated vocal bits and pieces scattered throughout the song? check.
But the one indie trope that Rutter refuses to follow is taking himself too seriously, and this, coupled with his expert songwriting and resistance in following the traditional pop song structure turns “On Love (An Alternative Response to Almitra’s Request)” into a masterful achievement that showcases what really good indie music today can be and accomplish.
? © James Kowalski