We're a good six months away from the time that this publication collates local bands by genre and asks for readers' votes to crown a winner, but let's go ahead and pencil Demon Lover in as a Best Pop Group nominee. No other local band takes on popular music's breadth and breaks it down into inchoate forms, only to tie its tendrils into something wild but complete.
The trio's latest release, Moody Future, touches on dream-pop, basement hip-hop, Krautrock and punk, but cares little about drawing lines between the forms. Opening track "Moody Future/It's a Mystery" serves as an overture to the record with a kind of Saturday morning cartoon verve, introducing themes and sounds to come. The song's simple riff gets repeated on slide guitar, trumpet and steel drum over joyous proclamations of the album title before slipping into a haunted-house soundtrack of scrawling synths and dead-eyed incantations.
At this point it is simply a matter of biography to note that Andy Lashier, JJ Hamon and Sam Meyer first played together as part of the late, lamented Theodore. Only the faintest molecules of their old band inform Demon Lover's splatter-paint style: As multi-instrumentalists, Lashier and Hamon brightened the corners of Theodore's story-driven folk songs with bursts of brass, keyboard and spirited backing vocals, but that was a few million miles away from Moody Future's pantheistic pop. Take closing track "Ate a Cicada," which finds Lashier reciting a sing-songy couplet over deep-space synths at an increasingly manic pace.
In the three years of Demon Lover's existence, the band has taken experimentalism not only as permission to muck about with a variety of styles, but to exert some kind of mastery over them. The light-touch, melodica-driven dub of "3500 Spring"/"Annie Got Mad" would sound like some white-dread Venice Café nightmare in any other context, but coming between gibberish boogaloo "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" (not an ODB cover, sadly) and the crust punk/nursery rhyme mashup "Counterattack!!" leaves the song sequence seemingly random but, at least, consistently incoherent. That Demon Lover is only physically releasing this album on cassette (alongside streaming/digital) suggests a stylistic fluidity between, and often within, tracks.
The Vocoder-ed motorik boogie of "Radioactive Brian Wilson" is the closest thing to a conventional single here, and even that song takes a detour with an "Our Prayer"-style a capella break and a clattering, disembodied hip-hop beat. Likewise, "Dream Date" is equal parts Frankie Valli and Frank Black, leading off with one of the album's several Spector-esque moments before delving into something more primal. That dichotomy of sweetness and dread, hinted at even in Demon Lover's name, provides gristle for this funhouse mixtape.
Stream Moody Future in its entirety below:
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