I have so much fun with indie pop. It is bloated genre, sure. There are very few artists who do not dabble at it somewhat. Even country has this bubbly pop leaning, and the mainstream bands think they are indie when they craft some truly impotent pop songs for a little dash of credibility. Scaresthedaylights is about as sincere as they come. Neil Lipuma is the indie pop superman. He is a business suited insurance representative 9-5. At night, he is a self-funded self-releasing indie pop sensation. He recruits a cartoonish cast of characters. (Meet the crew: We got the lovingly adorable Katie Ender on cello and strings. Elsewhere, we have Marc Cantone, whose music prowess is not limited to synth, percussion, and the old-fabled piano). You can just tell they are having an absolute blast. If anyone was to win an award for most “awesome,” it would be the trio of Scaresthedaylights.
The group’s latest release, Come On, marks their third formal release. Recorded in 2012 in New York City, it contains 10 tightly-arranged tracks clocking it at a modest 30 minutes. It is short, spiriting, and illuminating fun. The songs throw balance to the wind, instead opting for pure rambunctious pop energy. This is Matt and Kim-styled pop rock taken to the penultimate degree, resulting in some revitalizing fun. Even the sullen balladry like the song ‘Do’ is short and purposeful, telling a quick little drum-driven story.
Unfortunately, we can not hear more from the spirited band. Being in insurance really must steal your soul (no offense Mr. Lipuma but reality is a bummer). This may be part of the reason why the lyrics on the tracks are so unquestionably depressing. Put me on a pill, I’ll keep it by my windowsill. Let me see the world with my eyes unfurled Lipuma sings on the appropriately titled ‘Deep Dark Black.’ Is not exactly the energetic indie-pop flair the genre’s fans are used to.
‘Wake Takes Us In’ is unrelentingly depressing. Though the lyrics are not the most decipherable, you figure out pretty quickly that that is probably the point. For what it is worth, the song is a drowsy mini-adventure that relies on atmosphere to build emotion.
Lipuma croons tirelessly on ‘Jelly Jam 92,’ doubting if he even is a man, and maybe questioning what maturity really is anyway. It is all rather perplexing for a band that seems to promise fun and mayhem on every track. ‘Hopeboat is a fun little ditty until Limpuma wants the hurt to keep him alert and the fear to steer me clear and you get slightly disheveled wondering why he doesn’t just sing about girls and the beach and call it a day. But I guess that was never in the contract. Scaresthedaylights attempt to do something a bit different with the instruments at their disposal. The album itself is elegantly crafted, placing dreamy lyrics atop the right vocal portions, and allowing thinly veiled pianos, synths, and cellos to bleed together into some unsettling dancing rhythms.
After 30 minutes, the album seems over before it ever really begun. Come On is hard to pinpoint, and it allows the songs to ebb and flow seamlessly without you ever quite getting a grasp of what is happening. Just as you realize Lipuma’s singing style, he switches it up just enough. Each song sounds equally hopeful as well as overwhelming digressive. It is fun, unsettling, and always a wonderful little trip down the odd side of the road.
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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