If it weren’t for Jamie’s sheer force of personality and natural charisma keeping things afloat, this rather formulaic fare would certainly drown in the bluesy mire of its own clichés.
‘Not Gonna Break Me’ starts out well enough, with a solid intro that clearly states its claim; a subtly multi-layered texture of piano, synth, guitar, and muffled foot-stompy, hand-clappy samples hinting at the carnage to come. The texture then builds with a few staple additions that have never failed Mr. Commons in the past, and they certainly don’t here: swampy slide-guitar, gospel choir vocals, and a ‘We Will Rock You’-esque stomp-clap-repeat. It’s a tad predictable, but there’s enough interest to allay fears of the been-there-heard-that syndrome setting in. At any rate our expectations are confirmed. We’re in for a blood-curdling, fist-pumping, psych-out war cry.
To a certain extent it delivers that, albeit in a somewhat indifference-inducing manner. Once we understand that our protagonist will – under no circumstances – be broken down by his vaguely-sketched opponent, we’re left feeling more than a little bored by both the dogged insistence of said message and the song’s stubborn refusal to develop narratively, and musically, thereafter.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like it, and no doubt when we hear it as an accompaniment to sun-drenched BBC images of lithe Olympian athletes running in slo-mo its rousing, anthemic quality will enhance them no end. Yet for me mere accompaniment it remains, without the strength of character or individuality to stand on its own two crow’s-feet.
‘Not Gonna Break Me’ is out now via KIDinaKORNER and Interscope Records