Mandy Moore is making a triumphant return to music with her new single "When I Wasn't Watching." The prospect of new music from the singer-turned-actress is cause for celebration, because Moore, an underrated fixture of pop music in the early aughts, hasn't released music for a decade. To some, she might be Rebecca Pearson, the loveable matriarch on NBC's This Is Us. But for those of us who remember 1999's cavity-inducing single "Candy," Moore's latest song is a satisfying reintroduction to the 35-year-old singer.
"When I Wasn't Watching" is breathy and introspective, with Moore's words coming across like a confessional. "Where was I when this was going down? Maybe sleeping in, maybe out of town?" she sings at the start of the song. That sentiment flows through the rest of the song, like the thoughts that run on loop in your mind after the clarity that follows a breakup. Here, Moore is in search of the parts of herself she's lost. "What I became, when I wasn't watching," she sings on the hook.
Following the allegations of emotional abuse from ex-husband Ryan Adams, a single as transparent as "When I Wasn't Watching" feels like a full circle moment. She detailed allegations in an interview with The New York Times last February, claiming, "Music was a point of manipulation for him." According to Moore, much of the music the two worked on together was shelved. Amanda Leigh is the last album she released shortly after they married in 2009. If "When I Wasn't Watching" marks a new era for Mandy Moore, we're here for it.
Kristin Corry is a staff writer for VICE.