Review: The Hopeful Candy-Coated Synth-Pop Of BUMPER’s Debut ‘pop songs 2020’

BUMPER | pop songs 2020 | Self-Released

Release Date: 4 September, 2020

In a brand new collaboration; American musicians Michelle Zauner: otherwise known under her musical moniker for her indie-pop project Japanese Breakfast, and Ryan Galloway of the alternative rock band Crying have come together in a new project by the name of BUMPER.

The artists have sculpted an EP in what is dubbed a quarantine project; Zauner and Galloway actually live but 0.2 kilometers (or, three blocks for Americans) from one another in New York, but considering the emergence of the pandemic have not been in physical contact with one another for months. Hence, their collaborative debut titled ‘pop songs 2020’ was created by sending files back and forth online.

One of the most immediately striking aspects of ‘pop songs 2020’s release are the beautiful illustrations that accompany it; with the vivid colour palettes of the luminous artworks adding an extra touch to the summery, upbeat and atmospheric synth-pop bliss the four track EP presents to listeners.

From the very opening track ‘You Can Get It!’ – the kaleidoscopic electro-pop aura immediately sets the tone for the project itself, candy-coated and luminous in the sparkling melodic sun. The electric repetition of light-hearted percussive melody and the groove of a cheerful, funk-esque bass are reminiscent of delightful, tranquil days spent on a quiet beach, where the weather is just right and one bathes in the sunny, tropical glow. Glittering synths accompanying Zauner’s honeyed vocals and bubbling percussion blooms climatic as layers of textural electronics and harmonies fill the air with a lush atmosphere.

Red Brick’ is more theatrical in nature, yet does not stray from the cohesive, danceable EP the duo have created; with each track tying into one another with their overall buoyant tones and authentic, kind atmospheres. Opening with the rise and fall of a cinematic glissade, the track segues into a burst of colour; the spirited bass and lively beat compliments Zauner’s powerful, velveteen vocals, the strength in her silken words driven and spellbinding in their mesmerising confidence. With the ebb and flow of glowing video-game esque synths comes the occasional strike of a robust, slightly metallic sounding drum – juxtaposing the intricately woven, genuinely sweet and joyful textures of ‘Red Brick’ in a loving curiosity.

‘pop songs 2020’ is delightful in its nature, teeming with nostalgia in manner that doesn’t come across as melancholic but rather hopeful and genuine – with the mood the EP creates having us all longing for happier days, but allowing us to feel joy in the memories we may subjectively associated with the tracks.

Stream & Purchase pop songs 2020 by BUMPER
Rating: 7.5 / 10

Feature Image: BUMPER (illustration) by Mary Vertulfo

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