Since the dawn of the internet, multitasking has become a way of life. In her namesake four-piece band, 23-year-old Amsterdam native Pip Blom cleverly weaponizes lapses in concentration to craft perky, grunge-lite melodies. “I’ll watch a documentary while playing guitar,” she explained earlier this year. “When I play something on my guitar that stands out more than the documentary does, then that becomes something I should use.” While she’s immersed in stories about interesting people or mental illness (her preferred choice of docs), a hypnotic melody or peculiar chord progression pushes to the front. These become the quartet’s thumping heart: moody riffs, steady post-punk percussion, and ebullient hooks that sink deep.
The catchiness and ease of the songs on the band’s debut album Boat overshadow the self-aware lyrics. Blom’s vocals, although clear, are undercut by just the right amount of pop-fuzz aggression. Boat is an enjoyable and uncomplicated listen, but it’s hindered by the sense that the production and vocals are built on top of each other, instead of building space for each other. Some songs feel rambling, while others have clear conviction. On standout “Bedhead,” lethargic strums and tempered drums build around Blom’s vocals in perfect symbiosis. “I woke up, felt like I never slept/No one knew what was wrong,” she sings, describing a mental exhaustion that goes well past everyday grogginess into a dark, depressive hole. Her voice comes closer during the chorus, strengthening the band’s scruffy pop with emotional intimacy.
In the rustling urgency of “Daddy Issues” and the zig-zagging laxity of “Sorry,” Boat offers many crisp, cozy moments. Throughout, the band teeters between themes of distraction, isolation, and victory over apathy. On “Ruby,” Blom sings about the dilemma of finally recovering: “The worst days are all over/But now that I feel fine, I don’t know what to do with all that time.” Whatever scenarios surround these new feelings are mysterious, sometimes sinister. Elsewhere, Blom seeks to numb her emotions as she prepares to act on an unnamed mistake—seemingly one of passion. A grimy bassline lurks like a devil on her shoulder, urging her to follow through. “Caught off guard by feelings/I felt happy,” she sings, with eerie perplexity during “Tinfoil.”
Saturday 12th October 2019
Price: £10 adv