Joshua Bassett's not quite over an ex, and we're definitely not over his vulnerability and lyrical rawness.
Joshua Bassett is keeping himself relevant with his first release of 2022, just less than three months after his controversial EP Crisis/Secret/Set Me Free. This time, he laments over an ex he’s not quite over.
In ‘Doppelgänger’, Bassett reflects on running into a woman who was the spitting image of an ex. He explains the different thought processes he went through in seeing her, being scared to talk to the ex in question, yet knowing deep inside he wanted to talk and wanted to explore his old feelings; leaving him in a “wreck”. It’s his most honest, vulnerable and personal song in the sense that it tells the story of these old feelings from his perspective, unlike previous song ‘Sorry;, or telling a story to himself, unlike ‘Crisis’, which feels like an honest letter to an ex.
In this way, it makes to much more difficult to link it to the 2021 drama surrounding Olivia Rodrigo and Sabrina Carpenter, and feels like the start of the a breath of fresh air for him, moving forward to tell his own stories in *some* peace. Naturally, there has been speculation around who the song is about, however Bassett himself has made every attempt in the past few months to make future releases isolate themselves from it all. On his fan Discord server, he blatantly explains that he did not want speculation and specifically around the video he “did not want to play the hair colour game”; referring to the obsession over blonde vs brunette following the release of ‘driver’s license’. So, while there has been an attempt to relate this song to his past, there has been a large effort to pull Bassett out of the narrative and allow him to move forward with his career.
Personally, the song does feel like a breath of fresh air and you can see Bassett for the loving, vulnerable artist he is in the way he reflects on this experience. It makes for a genuinely beautiful storytelling aspect – lyrically, the only part that repeats is the chorus with pre and post choruses being lyrically completely different. Its definitely a refreshing style for Josh and shows his versatility within songwriting. My only reservation about the song is that I expected it to build more on the percussion. There’s a steady building drum beat in the final two choruses and the bridge, however it is quickly quietened, and I would have liked more on that. However, I understand the stylistic choice behind it, the want to maintain the focus on the lyrics; it just would have been interesting to see how they explored that production further.
The accompanying music video is the talk of social media – at least, those users who still care about the drama a year on. Which, in fairness, mostly consists of fans clasping at straws to make the song either about Rodrigo or Carpenter. The reasoning? The song is reminiscent of the story Carpenter told in ‘Skinny Dipping’, but others argue the girl in the video is a brunette so therefore it must be an allusion to Rodrigo.
It makes no sense to be continuing these petty arguments when Bassett himself has attempted to dispel any links between his song and their theories. Drama aside, the video really is a theatrical masterpiece. Directed by Elle Mills, and creative direction led by Sarah Carpenter, as with the previous EP and Carpenter’s videos, it really is just exactly what the doctor ordered. It tells the story of the song, flashbacks and all. To me, it certainly has undertones of both Carpenter’s 2021 music videos for ‘Skin’ and ‘Skinny Dipping’; however I don’t believe this is intentional, and just what I have mentioned to friends to be the “Sarah Carpenter Effect”. As a creative director, she has both the creative visions of Bassett and Carpenter down to a T in her brain, and so with them telling similar stories of healing and moving on, it is undoubtedly just the way Sarah interprets the individual feelings of her sister and friend. With this video, she and Mills truly brought a beautiful vulnerability and visual richness to the song, which I cannot stop watching.
On the whole, I can barely fault Bassett’s latest release and I am so proud of him and the team that put it all together; its nice to see him slowly coming from the disaster that was his 2021.
‘Doppelgänger’ is out now, via Warner Records. Watch the video below: