sat 13/07/2024

CD: Psapp - What Makes us Glow | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Psapp - What Makes us Glow

CD: Psapp - What Makes us Glow

'Toytronic' duo make sweet music from mealworms and mooing

Psapp's 'What Makes us Glow' never lets the experimentation get in the way of a beautiful melody

This need to classify music with all sorts of made-up words might be irritating, but "toytronica" - a label frequently given to Psapp - is as succinct a description as any of the next 40 minutes after you hit "play" on their fourth album, What Makes Us Glow.

The label comes from the odds and ends that the duo, made up of ex-Londonders Carim Clasmann and Galia Durant, have been known to incorporate into their signature sound, but it’s just as apt a descriptor of their playful rhythms and bursts of sweet melody.

Yes, the album opens with a 17-second burst of the sombre mooing of milk-laden cows behind what sounds like the family silverware getting washed in the shower, but it’s an effective lead-in to the clicks and calypso rhythms of first track proper, “Wet Salt”. It’s such an immersive listen that the seriousness of its lyrics, which deal very directly with a relationship in its dying throes, only hits you afterwards.

These are themes that Psapp revisit throughout What Makes Us Glow, and they are no less evocative for the fact that they are soundtracked by - apparently - boxes full of writhing mealworms, a home-made marimba made from bones and the sound of Durant’s steady breathing in sleep. “The Cruel, the Kind and the Bad” is a heartfelt letter to a friend, delivered in the form of the sort of overly-theatrical waltz you’d expect to find soundtracking a black and white horror movie; “Seven” is a sombre song of loss and longing with a bouncy, jazzy rhythm; the haunting title track hangs around long after listening and “In the Black”, with its tribunal percussion and ambiguous lyrics, begs to be played on repeat. Like their similarly experimental contemporaries Tunng, Psapp never let the experimentation get in the way of a beautiful melody - but still manage to create a sound that is wholly their own.

Overleaf: take a listen to "Everything Belongs to the Sun" from the album

It’s such an immersive listen that the seriousness of its lyrics only hits you afterwards


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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