There is something missing in STAND STILL. Bensbeendead. and min.a would have you believe it’s a(n) (ex-)lover, little different than any other “searching for something that I can’t reach.” Lonely people wander into lonelier alleys, searching for ways to escape their own loneliness, ways that your fifth-grade Too Good For Drugs pledge would be disappointed in (“Medicated, here I lay, I’m comatose”). Sex becomes a distraction, the contact of bodies as objects, means to a, at times, pleasureless end (“‘Cause I got someone in my cup, but it don’t fill me like you do”). All this, inevitably, to no avail: “The bigger issue remains” (or, in Halsey’s case, “My ghost, where’d you go?”).
This is the story known by heart, that “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” but Bensbeendead. and min.a aren’t the traditional storytellers. Where release is supposed to come in the chorus, the whole max-volume selling point of pop, Bensbeendead. strips the BPM and production back to shimmering synth glissandos and flourishes of piano, a word-painting-at-its-finest standstill before min.a brings the song up to speed again. When she does, her electrostutter (“Is this what you wanted-ed-ed-ed or not?”) punctuates her last thoughts with anxiety, as if she doesn’t want to let the song to go on.
Of course, it does: The chorus comes back around, followed by the bridge, which could’ve been an alternate cut of Stay if Zedd produced for the living room instead of the dance floor. Therein lies what is missing though: Not just an (ex-)lover, but a period at the end. That as much as the world might seem to “stand still,” as much as we might hear the final synths lingering in the air, it never really stands still for us. The heart and sentence go on….