the term “bedroom pop” gets thrown around quite often these days, both by blogs such as this one and by some of the artists that they cover. it’s a fairly innocuous tag, usually referring to the home-recorded preferences of the musicians in question and their intimate, stripped-down approach to both instrumentation and lyricism. but while some artists are conforming to the perceived confines of the genre, there are others that strive to push its boundaries. eskimeaux and her new album o.k. land squarely in the latter category, bolstering bedroom pop blueprints with flurries of exquisite electronic augmentation.
gabrielle smith has experimented with different styles of music since she began using the moniker eskimeaux; early ventures were in the noisy realm, while a 2012 self-titled album moved on to explore elements of edm. there are traces of those elements across o.k., but they feel streamlined, a refinement of initial dabbling that now fits more comfortably with smith’s finely-honed lyricism. album opener “folly” illustrates this principle well. what could be a quaint folk song quickly blossoms into a fully-orchestrated endeavor, with thick, resonant drum programming serving as the anchor of an otherwise-organic arrangement, a dichotomy explored in depth on tracks like “broken necks” and “everything you love.”
smith’s timbral choices aren’t restricted or explicitly informed by her previous output. by and large, o.k. reads more like a rock record, with substantial low-end presence and guitar counter-melodies fleshing out smith’s initial bedroom-culled sketches. “alone at the party” is hard-charging and scrappy, its tempo and volume belying the somber lyrical undertones, while songs like “thanks” and “the thunder answered back” toggle between straight-ahead time signatures and freer, more ambient sections with aplomb. firmly committed to not being backed into a corner of any sorts, smith also turns in a stripped-down performance to close out o.k., its inevitable arrival foreshadowed by sustained solo passages on “i admit i’m scared” and “sparrow.”
eskimeaux’s songs may originate from a bedroom, but the end result certainly doesn’t feel confined to such a small space. o.k. thrives on the symphonic maximalism of “pocket full of posies,” the whispering minimalism of “that’s o.k.,” and everything in between, an astute dedication to contrast that will undoubtedly lend itself well to the band’s live show. this multidimensional album is unpredictable and uncompromising in the best ways possible; spend some time with o.k. and discover just how expansive the bedroom pop aesthetic is capable of being.
note: eskimeaux will tour this summer with mitski and elvis depressedly. elvis depressedly released their stunning album new alhambra via run for cover records and orchid tapes today as well.