Archive for the ‘Nashville’ Category

The front page of his bold bright-on-black website welcomes you with the following: “You’re finally home, my fellow weirdo.” He might as well have rolled out a red carpet for a dweeb like me.  Basic Printer (Jesse Gillenwalters) and his color-blocked universe hail from Nashville’s underground, where he has developed a small but mighty following for his catchy experimental pop with electronic twiddly sound bits.  True to the tone of the album, he succumbed to his id and set it free a week early. HAHA YEAH is 26 minutes of bright vocals over earwormy rhythms as he explores relationship drama and emotional blockage, an experience he describes as a “temper tantrum” of emotional immaturity.

The album makes an interesting choice by tossing medical terms in with its robo-imagery, giving this pop a bit of iron and gristle.  The first track is called “<3 MECHANICAL HEARTBEAT <3,” pre-emoji hearts included. This tune laments the speaker’s defensively cold heart with a pretty vocal.  Boppy “TOURNIQUET,” references tying wounds and “razors in her mouth.”  It’s a little metal for the bedroom pop but I’m not mad about it – these medical references give his candied synth an edge. But HAHA YEAH gets more dark than gooey. “EVER SINCE YOU MOVED (DOWN THE STREET)” uses its mechanical voice for a fizzy buzzy confession and then lets VGM sounds express the shame and panic that the voice cannot.  Even the end of “PATIENT ROLE” slows itself down and darkly declares that “we are conjoined,” the weightiest medical word of the tune and one that shifts its sadness into what feels like a want of control. 

“PATIENT ROLE” ends up being a stand out track.  It has this mellow descent that is so smooth and beautiful while also being powerfully desperate.  A hip hop interlude from A. J. Crew slides smoothly through extended covidian metaphors.  But the biggest draw for me is how Jesse’s cutie-pie vocal wraps around my vena cava.  We get moments of his raw insecurity coming through: “Tell me/I need to know I’m needed/I need to know I’m healthy/I’m begging for empathy/know me.”  It warbles through my mellow and pokes the buttons in my needy spots.  I like the way his voice goes high.  Get it, Mariah.

HAHA YEAH reveals a lot of turmoil in eight pop tracks.  It comes to a begrudging, maybe even petulant conclusion that makes it hard to know if its voice is maturing or just yielding.  But what it does most successfully is toss in eggs and sugar to bake these contradictions into funfetti cake.  It’s a worthy choice for the repeat button, I think.

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