Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh’s finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Patrick Bowman (Pop Filter editor for Pop City)!
Ariel Pink, “Put Your Number in My Phone” - Ariel Pink is kind of crazy…if there is someone to lay claim to the kind of prolific, influential, eccentric pop star that’s haunting the edges of the current zeitgeist, he’s it. He’s recorded something like nine albums, supposedly had hundreds and hundreds of unreleased songs, and his music walks the line between so-ironic-it-might-be-honest teen dream pop, and absurdist, hilarious pop experiments that remind me of a darker They Might Be Giants. “Put Your Number in My Phone” is the first single from his upcoming album Pom Pom and it has Pink in classic Harry Nillsson, Todd Rundgren gauzy pop mode. His lyrics are seemingly innocent on the surface, but his delivery almost resembles a lobotomized lounge singer, which works perfectly to establish this unnerving atmosphere. His most sugary, pop moments always seem to have a darkness lurking underneath.
Tops, “Outside” - The Montreal-based TOPS just released their sophomore album Picture You Staring, and they seem to be taking their cues from a lot of the current indie-pop-alchemists like Grimes, the aforementioned Ariel Pink, and Blue Hawaii, taking relatively straight forward 80s/90s synth pop and turning it inside out to reflect this type of very melancholic, nostalgic, almost elegiac songwriting that picks apart innocent pop tropes to reveal a pretty damaged core.
“Outside” sounds like Cyndi Lauper break up song slowed down to a crawl, revealing this sort of inexorable car crash of a personal entanglement. It’s gorgeous, and devastating, and you can’t really look away, especially when lead singer Jane Penny wispily drops the song's final line: “Why’s it a shame for me to love?”