June 23, 2016

EP: Microsoft Saint - Bubblegum, Bubblegum

Microsoft Saint transcends bedroom pop on Bubblegum, Bubblegum.

Microsoft Saint (formerly I Tried to Run Away When I Was Six) is a project by the Philadelphia-based musician Domenica Pileggi. A thoughtful genre, highlighting music created in personal and domestic spaces, bedroom pop is making a lively and colorful resurgence. Now more than ever before, bedroom pop uses a diverse range of sonic elements from the very percussion that may physically transcend the domestic space from which the genre is lauded, to clips from media that further strengthen the link between the genre and its domain: the primetime television clip, the favorite film meets the bedroom, the attic, spaces the ghost of your past haunts. Prevalent in bedroom pop, the more experimental aspects of the genre shine in full context. Microsoft Saint’s Bubblegum, Bubblegum is no different in this regard, utilizing clips from television, a recitation of children’s’ rhyme, and the whistled melody of an iconic American gospel hymn.

The first track, “Old Bedroom,” opens with the cry, “Seems my old bedroom is not my bedroom anymore,” paralleling the album’s transcendence of the genre itself. Microsoft Saint lets the listener in on a thoughtful progression from the space (evoking images of a childhood home, tokens from an old relationship) to discussion of the space, the time, the incident. An immediate stand-out track is “Want It Back”, as its strong pop structure allows for a full-forward pitch in emotional urgency, which stretches throughout the rest of the record. “Want It Back” shines; above all, it is well-written and performed to its brink. It is a fevered knock on a closed bedroom door. This is precisely what we find in the simple, soaring chorus: a wide open declaration.

There is an ethereal quality to Bubblegum, Bubblegum; despite its raw, its reaching and delving, the sound seems to grow more experimental as it progresses. This turn plays well with the lyrical sentiment – there is a notable range between a poignant reach back into the pure, weightless, blamelessness of youth and an urgent behest of faith and of the moment. Throughout, production is full and clean, even in the progressive use of echo as heard in “The Saints.” This track may be Bubblegum, Bubblegum’s most victorious moment, as it brings the album’s themes fully into fruition with a bricolage of emotion, sound and intention: impassioned phrases are whittled into a familiar melody, nonchalantly whistled. It is here the record becomes increasingly more complex, moving again through ranges of emotion and the intimacy of memory. Before a bit of structural dissolution (into a giggled oration of the titular “Bublegum, Bublegum” children’s rhyme), the riff on “Marbles” is reminiscent of the engaging indie strums on Liz Phair’s classic Exile from Guyville – grooving and strong. The final track, “Toy Lot,” is fraught with a riff that pulses the tune with a frustrated, minor-chorded fit of strumming, until the track closes with a flurry of voices and laughter, reversed.

Bubblegum, Bubblegum is blustering bedroom pop, with the same resonance of a presence felt in an empty room: was it the wind whistling through a cracked window? A ghost? Is it by “Want It Back,” listeners know they are in the presence of an occurrence? Great pop is malleable in its ability to transcend the genre, which can be achieved in a range of contexts and sonic quality – from the solo to the polyphonic. Good pop makes the hard work look easy. It is inexplicably familiar, yet retains its individuality and sovereignty – it could have arrived at any time, but we are lucky to witness it now. Bubblegum, Bubblegum seems to be at “an arm’s length away” from the events that inspired it, taking us from Bedroom Pop to, perhaps, Bedroom Pop Adjacent – a hallway, a foyer, a prayer closet. Either way, the view from here is a good one.


Listen to Microsoft Saint on bandcamp

Alexus Erin originally hails from Princeton, New Jersey and currently resides in Scotland. Her written work specializes in the theoretical frameworks of embodiment, as well as feminist, gender, critical race, faith, culture and music, as well as environmental justice studies. Erin’s first novel was published in 2009. Her poetry has previously appeared in Potluck Magazine, the Melanin Collective, The Nervous Breakdown, The Audacity, and a host of others. More recently, Erin completed her first poetry chapbook, Descant, which is set to be released by Saucepot Publishing. She enjoys hip hop, noise punk, pop punk and is actively looking for bandmates. When she's not expounding at length on the vocal prowess of Mariah Carey, she is developing her screenplay, American Lotus Project into an independent film.