For many people out there, the era that was the 80s is neither dead nor gone (sadly). Ironically, the 80s is not the only era in which many people choose to live, even though it has passed. There are also those who choose to remain in the 90s, even though that age is gone, too. Among those individuals who apparently choose to live in the 90s, even now in the 21st century are the members of the independent alt-rock band Superbloom. That is evidenced in the band’s album, Pollen. The 12-song record, scheduled for release Tuesday, is a full-on musical trip back to the 90s, but one that is welcome. Those musical arrangements that make up the body of this record will be discussed shortly. The lyrical themes that accompany the songs, while difficult to decipher at points without a lyrics sheet, also play into the album’s presentation. They will be discussed a little later. The sequencing of that collective content rounds out the most important of the album’s elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation. All things considered, they make Pollen a surprisingly enjoyable nostalgic trip back to the 90s that any fan of that era’s sounds will enjoy.
Superbloom’s forthcoming album Pollen is a surprisingly enjoyable musical trip back to the 90s. More specifically, it is a welcome trip for those who were and still are fans of the grunge and alt-rock movement that was so prevalent during that era. That is proven primarily through the record’s featured musical arrangements. Right from the 42-minute record’s opening, audiences are treated to an arrangement that is comparable to works from Foo Fighters in ‘1994.’ Ironically, it was only a year later – 1995 – when Foo Fighters released its self-titled debut album. Nirvana had released its finale album, In Utero only a year prior in 1993. It sounded nothing like Foo Fighters’ album, which would of course come later, either. To that end, maybe the arrangement is meant to sort of highlight the bridge between the two bands. That is of course just this critic’s interpretation.
Moving on from ‘1994,’ the alt-rock and grunge sounds and styles continue from there. ‘Mary on a Chain’ bears a stylistic approach and sound that is just as comparable to works from Silverchair and Nirvana as to some of the alt-rocks bands that rose to fame during the 1990s. That is evidenced through the sound and style of the vocal delivery, guitars and bass here. Even the sound of the drums, thanks to the production, gives them the sound of drums used in so many records during that era. It makes for an interesting presentation in its own right.
Much the same can be said of ‘Hey Old Man,’ ‘Leash,’ and honestly every other arrangement featured throughout the album. Audiences are even treated to a Smashing Pumpkins style composition in the album’s latest single, ‘Pollen.’ As if that is not enough, listeners could just as easily argue that the band takes influence from (of all bands) in ‘Glass Candy Wrapper.’ The similarity between this song and Lifehouse’s hit single ‘Hanging By A Moment’ is uncanny. Whether that similarity was intended is known only to Superbloom’s members. Regardless, it is an unavoidable comparison. Taking that into account along with the other arrangements examined here and the rest of the record’s compositions, the whole makes this album appealing for any alt-rock and grunge rock fan if only for its musical content. Of course the musical content is only a portion of what is deserving of attention. The lyrical content that accompanies the songs’ musical content is also of note.
The lyrical content featured throughout Pollen is difficult to fully decipher at points without a lyrics sheet to reference. Though, there are some points at which the lyrics can at least be understood partially. One of the songs that allows for at least some understanding is the early Nirvana-esque ‘Spill.’ Front man Dave Hoon sings in the song’s lead verse, “I want to buy/A crow of thorns/try it on/And poison my…” The final words here are difficult to decipher. That aside, the very mention of the crown of thorns makes the song here perhaps about someone putting the weight of the world on their own shoulders. At another point, Hoon can be understood to sing, “I wish I was someone else/So I redeem myself.” He later adds, “I wanna buy your sympathy.” This comes across as the same kind of angsty lyrical content that was so commonplace in music from the 90s in itself. To that end, that seeming “oh woe is me” lyrical theme here couples perfectly with the sound of the age to take listeners back to the 90s even more.
Interestingly enough, Hoon and company do not just stick to the 90s in terms of the album’s lyrical themes. Hoon explained in reference to the album’s single, ‘Muzzle, that it is in fact a commentary on the current state of the world. He said of this song’s theme, “The lyrics for Muzzle were written at the end of summer I think of 2020 when everything was hyper crazy, and I’d always have the news on or be on Twitter or Reddit. So that was the environment Muzzle was written in. I think the song is about having something to say but choosing not to — for better or for worse.” Those statements are illustrated well as Hoon sings in the song’s lead verse, “Save me from myself/Put me back on the shelf/I thought we understood/If I could turn back time, I would.” There is even a mention in the second verse about the TV being constantly on. What is really interesting here is not so much the lyrical theme, but the calm in how Hoon delivers the song’s words. It’s kind of that hindsight being 20/20 sense, considering the calm in his delivery. That ads even more to the impact in the song’s lyrical theme, making clear why it is just one more example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content.
‘Whatever,’ the album’s penultimate entry, is yet another example of the album’s lyrical themes. As with that featured in ‘Spill,’ this song’s lyrical theme comes across as echoing the angsty emotions so common in music from the 90s. The song’s subject here seems to be addressing someone else, basically saying he/she is indifferent to being away from others. That is inferred as Hoon sings, “Wish I was gone/When I come back/I feel a million miles away/Whatever.” He even says in the song’s opening, “You ever been alone/You just enjoy the way/You like the way it sounds.” This comes across as being one of those anthemic type of songs that angsty, grunge fans would like. That is because it seems to present that desire of those young teen audiences to just be away and by themselves, brooding over everything because they like being that way. This is certain to take listeners right back to that age as it repeats time and again throughout the song’s three minute-plus run time. It makes the song just one more example of what makes the album’s lyrical content so important to its presentation. It shows the clear intent of Superbloom’s members to connect with listeners through the album’s lyrical content just as much as through its musical content.
While the musical and lyrical content featured in Superbloom’s new album goes a long way toward making the album appealing for fans of 90s alt and grunge rock, it is just part of what makes the album appealing for those audiences. The sequencing of that content puts the finishing touch to the album’s presentation. The sequencing shows a clear direction for the album’s songs. It starts out with a certain fire in its musical content, but gradually pulls back in the pairing of ‘Leash’ and ‘Muzzle.’ From that point on, the energies (and by connection the styles and sounds) in the album vary from song to song and even within the songs. This ensures listeners’ engagement in its own right. It ensures that the album does not become monotonous. Rather, it will keep listeners’ own emotions varying with those in the arrangements. Keeping that in mind, the sequencing serves as its own strong point for the album. When it is considered along with the album’s overall content, the whole makes this record a presentation that fans of 90s alt and grunge rock will agree is a welcome musical blast from the past.
Superbloom’s new album, Pollen is an interesting new offering from the independent rock act. That is due in part to its musical arrangements. The arrangements harken back to the alt and grunge rock sounds of the 90s, taking influence from the likes of Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and Foo Fighters to name just a few similar acts. That in itself is reason enough for the noted audiences to take in this record. The lyrical themes seem at least to some extent, to harken back to the angsty lyrical themes featured in music from acts that were popular at the time, too. The sequencing of that content puts the finishing touch to the album’s presentation, ensuring listeners’ engagement even more. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation. All things considered, they make Pollen one of the best of this year’s new independent albums. Pollen is scheduled for release Tuesday.
More information on Superbloom’s new single, video and album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at https://www.facebook.com/superbloomnyc.
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