GRMLN - Explore [EP]
Ah, the teen summer. Idealised as the birthing period of your latest dream-like project; your first novel, first record, first whatever-the-fuck. Yoodoo Park put his words in action, adopting the pseudonym GRMLN, and conspiring a collection of laid-back, sun-bleached tracks. Born in Kyoto, Japan and raised in Southern California, the 19-year-old has captured that feeling of a carefree summer’s evening, and translated it into some sterling indie pop.
Explore is his first EP, a sweet collection of Californian blissed-out funk. Sure, chillwave has been done to death, but layering it with guitar-based dream-pop neutralises forgetful comparisons. It's a kid's aspect—not a forlorn, unappreciative teen who’s simply waiting for September to head off to college. So here we have it; the sun the lowering itself, an idyllic Californian garage stocked with guitars, looping pedals, an orange glow ascending over the open door. There’s his inspiration, now just to soundtrack it.
'Relax Yourself' is upbeat, Beck-ish, 90s infused surf-pop. A wistful longing is extracted with bubbling riffs, resulting in a track that could easily underlay the opening credits of a Michael Cera movie—but don‘t hold that against it.
Like sand through your hands, a fresh breeze on your sweat-damp skin, a neon vans shoe hitting a skateboard; 'Depressions' couldn’t be more of the contrary. With a heavy rhythm and amateurish drums, it's an endearing session of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. "Aaaah's" are the only lyrics Park can muster over repetitive, cheery riffs. It's surf-pop—just not as grungy as Wavves or as psychedelic as Animal Collective. Think glum Washed Out with the lyrical injection of Real Estate, and you’re close to GRMLN's territory.
The depressed vocals of 'Live.Think.Die' are slower, distorted and bendy—tuning isn't an issue here, that's made clear. Lyrics don't make much sense and ramble off—like a drunkard singing along to a song they're not too sure of. Heavy bass-lines and brassy drums cement jaunty rhythms, ensuring that even if they mightn't entice, they're sure to please.
The stoner reverberation of 'Coral' reinstate "It's alright" so often, worries float up with your smoke. But it's at this point that everything begins to sound the same, with 'Wedding' meshing a little too well into its predecessor.
Saving the long hot day, is 'Patio', a chillier track which proves hauntingly conclusive. Bon Iver-like vocals and atmosphere are reminiscent of a wooded forest rather than beachside cruise. Delicate harmonies and haunting whispers fill a track that's just too short—like the Autumn days about to take over from the sun.
Explore risks becoming forgettable in a sea of chill buzz-bands, but is an enjoyable listen as Park publicly finds his skateshoe-clad feet. Sure, he isn't doing anything new, but what he's implementing through borrowing is promising. A great contrast of cheery lush lullabies are brought back down to earth with subtle dark undertones—now we just look forward to what the rest of the seasons bring.