Maudie Michelle and Jimmie Maneuva, otherwise known as StonerPop, are a Louisiana based twosome whose five song self-titled debut introduces a vital new creative force to electronic music. Few experienced fans of the genre will fail to be impressed by the considerable confidence that these songs show and the patient development of each one that results in them being so memorable. There’s no sense here of two musicians who want to show off or overreach. They set an assortment of goals for each of these tracks that the performances comfortably reach and the bar is invariably high. The apparent ease of their achievement isn’t some knock against the overall quality of the compositions, or lack of, but rather a testament to their mastery of the technique needed to realize their ambitions. Few musical units of this strain could hope to emerge so strongly and conclusively, but StonerPop’s songs are unusual and promise much.
Their surprisingly held back approach on the opener, “Preachers”, serves early notice that StonerPop does things differently than most. The electronic instruments drop distinctive touches throughout the song, never landing the same way twice, and Michelle mixes up her vocals as well, sometimes pulling great emotion out of herself, others times adopting a straight, affect-less approach. “Running”, naturally, has much more musical and vocal urgency than its laid back predecessor. This urgency is intermittent however; the song veers from a tense to breathless mood throughout its duration. The duo never falls prey to one of the most popular misconceptions about electronic music – the instrumentation has a wide range of color and always breathes with a warm glow flush with vitality.
“You’re Never Listening (Get Over Yourself)” isn’t entirely successful, but interesting. The lack of melody here compared to earlier songs asks the audience to adjust accordingly and some may not enjoy the shift. This is a much more pyrotechnic display of electronica than before and can be accused of self-indulgence, but others will rightly hear it as merely another side of the duo’s musical character. “Monsters” is probably the musical and lyrical highpoint of the EP. The duo’s strengths come together here in a very obvious way – the lyrical complexity is greater than before and suggests a personal experience, the intimate manner Michelle uses to handle the singing reinforces this, and the arrangement manages an inspired balance between melody and moody atmospherics. The EP’s last track “Fox” foregoes any of the aforementioned moodiness in favor of a more clearly upbeat ending and the beautifully phrased piano playing scattered throughout the song gives it a flair that earlier songs lack.
This debut EP from StonerPop has a distinctive character most artistic units don’t achieve until their second or third release. They clearly began the recording process with a clear idea of where they wanted to go with each song and enlisted the right collaborators to help achieve those goals but, ultimately, it’s emboldened young talent that make this recording succeed so well. StonerPop’s debut EP will please all fans of electronic music.
8 out of 10 stars