Review Summary: Split together.
In the majority of cases, split albums are just that; two halves stuck together, generally with something in common tying them to one another. This is usually the extent of any singular identity for these releases and they end up as merely two different portions awkwardly partnered up. In the case of Bedroom Pop Illuminati
, this trite image is shattered. While this effort isn’t a partnership of music in the sense of song collaboration or anything similar, the two halves simply fit really well together and yield a truly pleasant end product as a result. Both Depression at Denny’s and Single Soul share a simplistic, emotion driven approach to songwriting; however, the cohesion and effectiveness of this album as whole extends beyond the fragility of that small connection.
To begin with it’s worth noting that the combination of similarities and differences in terms of musical style lends this split its real strength. The album begins with the material courtesy of Single Soul and some of the tracks are truly impressive. Appearing here are a several of this artist’s best tracks yet, rivalling those off of previous work. ‘Mixtape Nostalgia’ is one of the finest tracks Single Souls has produced, featuring a soft, simple guitar melody that carries a sorrowful tone. The guitar accompanies a subdued vocal display, both of which complement one another perfectly. The brief sample at the end consisting of a comment made at the expense of the artist is a nice touch. As far as openers go, ‘Mixtape Nostalgia’ fits the role perfectly, remaining one of the strongest tracks on the split. The remainder of Single Souls half follows a similar style to the aforementioned track. ‘Ur Just Lonely Sometimes’ starts off a little slower than the first song, and while the vocal component isn’t as well executed as the previous display, the second half ramps it up a notch with the addition of well-placed viola together with a really interesting guitar riff, which ultimately leads up to the melancholy, introspective sound bite. A few new additions to the Single Soul arsenal, such as two instrumental tracks, add some variation to the albums and provide a few relaxing moments. ‘Candelabra Koalas’ completes the Single Soul half perfectly. Devoid of vocals as it is, it focuses the listener’s attention on the guitar in a way that’s somewhat soothing, and it’s in every way superior to the interlude-like nature of ‘Gas Up Yr Bologna’.
The album smoothly transitions to the Depression at Denny’s half of the split with the unique electronic intro ‘Mothball’ which captures the sound of a tape recorder being loaded and rewound. ‘Kwassa (Demo)’ is the first ‘proper’ track, and while the guitar work is somewhat sloppy, the song itself is saved by an amazing-if-simple vocal performance. Here and there a touch of piano is used too, with similar results as the guitar. Instrumentally, Depression at Denny’s does not shine particularly well and the playing is generally messy, sometimes noticeably so, but her female vocals are simply enrapturing and they outright save every track they appear on. ‘Lust’, for example, has probably the best vocal display of all, even though it’s only one line repeated for the entire track, it’s honestly a very impressive use of the voice as an instrument of sorts.
While the album is quite short, brevity is sometimes an advantage which ensures this album maintains its playability. The overarching feeling pervading this album is authenticity; there’s something extremely welcoming about how genuine both artists are with their songs. Both halves work with each other to better the album as a whole, and the artists maintain a sense of unity with the two parts of ‘Hands Free Scotch Hugs’, with each half being performed by the two different artists separately. This split not only feels cohesive; it progresses and builds without stumbling during the shift between artists. Bedroom Pop Illuminati
proves to be a truly impressive effort.