Review Summary: Spotify workout playlist-ready lightweight electronica
Doss’s new EP “4 New Hit Songs” toes the line between vapid banality and engaging sincerity in its 15 maximalist minutes of four-to-the-floor kicks and club-ready synths. Despite the four songs’ pop construction and intentions straight from the title, there is often only a skeleton of a legitimate “hit song”. Each song primarily features a simplistic repeated vocal or two-second melodic phrase repeated over and over, without much development over its runtime. This style of production should not work at all except as background music for commercials and the like, but Doss succeeds in making music that is fun despite its disposable nature.
“Puppy” leads off the EP with a sprightly instrumental sound, with a progressive house beat layered under bright staccato stabs and pitch-shifted vocals. It reminds me a bit of India Jordan’s EP “For You” from last year in its unrelentingly positive sound; both songs seem contextually linked by the disconnect between their club-oriented sound and the antisocial nature of the pandemic within which they were released. However, where Jordan’s work is charged with self-discovery and queer liberation, “Puppy” is content with merely being pretty and accessible – which seems to be Doss’s goal all along. The song works despite its simplistic nature both because the sound design is on-par and the mood is genuinely uplifting.
“Look”, however, faces diminishing returns upon multiple listens. In contrast with the joyride of “Puppy”, “Look” feels indebted to “Product”-era SOPHIE’s reductionist production style but without SOPHIE’s groundbreaking sound design. It does not elicit any particular response from me beyond a mild foot-tap and head nod, and its vapid nature detracts somewhat from the rest of the EP.
“Strawberry” holds up with “Puppy” as a keeper, with an almost shoegaze-like ambience strongly reminiscent of Curve’s track “Horror Head”. The lead melody of “Strawberry”, although repetitive, adds a nice touch above the swirling atmospheric guitars in the background. It is the most beautiful track on the EP by some distance, and I quite like it even though it is clearly derivative.
“On Your Mind” feels like the song that “Look” wanted to be, as it gels far better with “Puppy” and “Strawberry” despite its darker sound. It still pales in comparison to those two tracks, just barely managing to hold my attention in the later parts of the track. It would have been a stronger closing statement if it had a better sense of progression and it had a shorter length; the elements of the song feel generic and unengaging as they are.
Overall, this EP is decent despite its glaring flaws. At its best it is fun and accessible, with “Puppy” and “Strawberry” being quality tracks that might hold up in a DJ set. However, because the EP does not particularly aspire to anything deeper than a surface-level agreeableness, I cannot give a full enthusiastic recommendation to it. It lacks substance, and the absence of depth becomes clearer as the EP progresses. I enjoyed it once, but I don’t see myself returning to it.