The first recording from Louisiana electro pop duo StonerPop doesn’t really owe much of its musical inspiration to marijuana. Not obviously, at least. The five songs on their debut EP are all intelligently constructed while free-flowing, melodic, and often times highly atmospheric. They maintain a direct approach to songwriting and music making that involves the listeners from the first while also providing them with a very artful vehicle for realizing their needs for self-expression. Maudie Michelle, the duo’s main singer and lyricist, has a sympathetic musical partner in Jimmie Maneuva and the results of their collaboration have a satisfying amount of variety and color. They also show amazing confidence for two young, relatively inexperienced musicians and one can only assume that the source of this is an innate chemistry they share for performing and composing together.  

“Preachers” begins the EP on a remarkably restrained, even artful, note. Flurries of synth and percussion breeze past the listener and disappear while the main body of the song maintains a scattered but discernible structure. Michelle’s singing takes an unpredictable approach as well. It is surging with emotion and humanity in some moments while sounding bloodless and numb during others. She’s an obviously talented singer, but one of the most important aspects of her talent with these songs is the dramatic ability she has to embody a number of different moods. The claustrophobic intensity fueling much of “Running” makes that last point very clear. It doesn’t keep its foot on the gas pedal for the entirety of the performance, but it is certainly far moved active and packed with movement than the opener.  

“You’re Never Listening” layers on the electronic effects thicker than ever before, but it doesn’t sound out of place on an EP that values restraint much more than letting it all hang out. The distorted synth note hanging in the air for the full song gives it a slightly menacing backdrop, but everything added on top of that only further reinforces the mood. The occasionally lifeless quality in Michelle’s voice on the opener returns here and largely dominates her performance. It does an excellent job of dramatizing her all-encompassing annoyance with the song’s subject. The second to last song “Monsters” is the EP’s most substantial achievement in both its words and music. The words come at the subject matter from a variety of directions and make great drama out of the song’s central metaphor while the music hits the right balance between melody and atmospherics. The closing song “Fox” is a much more unambiguously upbeat number laced with particularly beautiful piano playing and very live drumming that adds a degree of physicality to the song it might not otherwise possess. It gives the EP a great ending that doesn’t back off its earlier achievements while introducing first time listeners to yet another side of their sound. StonerPop will garner a lot of much deserved attention with this release and their talent will produce even greater results on future releases.  

9 out of 10 stars 


David Shouse