Bummer Pop

James & Evander

Blue Velvet Music, 2012


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


There are a lot of things about this disc you can take at face value. First, James & Evander (real names Adam and Glenn), a duo from Oakland, isn’t exactly delivering the feel-good record of the year lyrically. Second, pop is a big part of their formula. The pair utilizes waves of synth and dreamy soundscapes in a universally likable fashion. However, musically, there is no bummer to be found here; this disc is colorful, artistic, and has plenty of upbeat melodies to go around.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Taking a sound that has become as prevalent today as it was in the ‘80s, James & Evander rely heavily on hushed vocals and swirling synth, but they aren’t afraid to inject acoustic guitars or a drum machine (“Can’t Wait”). It’s a concoction that legends like The Radio Dept. or The Cure mastered: the ability to play cheery, sunny music backed by desolate wordplay yet also featuring timeless harmonic sensibilities.

Of course, this music doesn’t all follow the same path. “CTSOF” is a lively dance track, all instrumental and seemingly tailor-made for the club. “Living The Dream” is the disc highlight here, a song that drips with an ‘80s feeling and is sure to find a place among all indie rock fans. Late in the disc, “What Else Is New” shows the band building into a punchy feel, rising from the hazy vocals and gentle melodies into a soaring, triumphant experience. The entire ensemble is light and atmospheric with plenty of interesting guitar parts amid the chillwave, synth-pop leanings, and at times I’m reminded of Depeche Mode on Prozac.

After a half decade together and experimenting with a few different ideas (the first several EPs were sans vocals), Bummer Pop is the sound of a band really coming into their own. The lush and layered song craft here finds the listener immediately immersed, and their sound, which is often referred to as Future Pop, flows with a sound that is both nostalgic and modern. This one will turn up on a lot of Top Ten lists for 2012.

Rating: A

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© 2012 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Blue Velvet Music, and is used for informational purposes only.