Songs, songs and more songs #54: Magdalena Bay, Lump, Matilda Mann, Madison Olds, Sycco

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Do not speak ill of pop my friends.

There are those who look down upon it because of its derivation from the word “popular” with some erroneously assuming that if something is well liked by many, it mustn’t be any good.

That’s rubbish, of course, because often something is popular because it’s good, it’s very VERY good, and so it is with these five songs, all of which bring together catchy music, thoughtful lyrics and stunningly good musicianship and vocals to create songs that can’t help but appeal to the masses.

But don’t assume that means they must therefore be bad because they are anything but …

“Chaeri” by Magdalena Bay

Magdalena Bay (image courtesy official Magdalena Bay Facebook page)

Hailing from the perpetually sunny climes of Los Angeles, Magdalena Bay, comprising Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin, have demonstrated they have a talented way with brilliant synth-driven pop.

It’s quite remarkable given that before delving into creating sublime, hugely listenable pop, the two artists, who, according Miami New Times, “met in 2011 at Live! Modern School of Music, an after-school music program in North Miami they attended while in high school” have never really listened to the genre, preferring the sounds of prog-rock.

“It’s definitely been a learning experience for us,” Lewin says. “Having never really listened to or made pop music before, [we’ve been] figuring it out as we went along.” (Miami New Times)

They are clearly quick learners because songs like “Chaeri” are richly, moodily melodic, sporting meaningful lyrics and Tenenbaum’s intensely, emotively atmospheric vocals, and a whole lot more as Pitchfork notes.

“Synths, bass, and a pulse-like techno beat set the ambience as Mica Tenenbaum’s quivering vocals channel space-age vixens or whispering fortune tellers. Here, the duo sounds more polished than DIY, and if listening to them used to feel like dancing in latex jumpsuits, it’s now more like floating in a space dystopia.”

“We Cannot Resist” by LUMP

LUMP (image courtesy official LUMP Facebook page)

British singer-songwriter Laura Marling and UK folk rock band Tunng founder Mike Lindsay have come together to form the duo LUMP and the result is some imaginatively clever pop, pulsing with a headily alluring bright energy.

At least that’s the case with “We Cannot Resist” about which We Are: The Guard have this to say:

“‘We Cannot Resist'” is a big, chunky pop song, albeit bent, twisted, and contorted so as to fit into LUMP’s creepy cinematic universe. ‘We cannot resist/We cannot resist’, whispers Laura over funky riffs on the cut, which resembles a kind of groovy cult mantra.”

For its light folky-rock-pop atmospherics, “We Cannot Resist” pulses with a raw urgency, impelled by Marling’s whispered frenzy of a vocal delivery which sits perfectly with the darkly sunny music of the song.

“Bloom” by Matilda Mann

Matilda Mann (image courtesy official Matilda Mann Facebook page)

Londoner Matilda Mann invests all the sunshineyness in the world into her track “Bloom”, a jauntily breezy paean to the complicated road to a new romance.

“‘Bloom’ is about meeting someone too soon. Sometimes you need a little more time, to figure out what you want and how to be alone, so that you don’t give too much of yourself away to someone else,’ says Matilda of the track. (We Are: The Guard)

It might all sound like a bit of a Cupidian downer but the reality is you are usually better in a relationship when you have a clear sense of who you are and what you want and so Mann, whom Fizzy Mag rather wonderfully describe as an “enchanting, soothing, and romantic poet” (who wouldn’t want to be designated thus?), is rather sensibly taking a step or two back in this delight of a song to get herself sorted before maybe diving into something wonderful.

But what if you don’t? That’s OK too, suggests Mann, who finishes on the idea that maybe something not going forward is for the best and that’s just how it is. (“And you think it’s a phase but I know that it’s not / I met you too soon for anything to bloom”.)

“Cliché of Falling in Love” by Madison Olds

Madison Olds (image courtesy official Madison Olds Facebook page)

Does falling in love come with a shop full of baggage and well-established expectations?

Yes, yes and YES.

Recognising love is always encumbered by what people think it should be and not what it is, Canadian artist Madison Olds has set out in “Cliché of Falling in Love” to write a love song that is anything but as Music & Fashion observes.

“Featuring an incredible vocal performance and lyrics that play out like a movie, “Cliché of Falling in Love” is the perfect anti-love song love song for all your summer love song needs.”

That’s the joy of this blissfully light and happy song – it kicks the clichés to the kerb before embracing the fact that she and her special someone are the very essence of that cliché and she’s perfectly OK with that.

It’s very clever and love affirming all wrapped in a gorgeous piece of music that feels like falling in love.

“Best Before” by Sycco

Sycco (image courtesy official Sycco Facebook page)

The proud owner of a #29 spot on this year’s triple j Hottest 100 poll, Brisbane-based sycco aka singer-songwriter-producer Sasha McLeod now has an EP to call her own.

Appropriately titled Sycco’s First EP, the collection of songs, the existence of which the artist admits to Best Before, is “daunting , but also very exciting”, includes the brilliantly listenable pop gem “Best Before”.

It’s a catchy piece of mid-fi jaunty pop that is the product of our weird COVID times which has seen the artist unable to do what other artist have traditionally taken for granted as she tells NME.

“But she also speaks wistfully of things seasoned pros have done time and time again that she’s yet to experience: playing huge touring festivals, having an uncapped audience all to herself, travelling to America and the rest of the world.”

A tour has now been announced, complicated yet again by COVID Delta strain outbreaks in NSW and Victoria, so hopefully that box will get ticked soon enough.

For now, we have the shimmery synth wonder of “Best Before” and a number of other tracks that stand to make a real impact for better on anyone’s lockdown blues.

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