It’s officially Fall y’all! Welcome to the seventh installment of Spire’s Bops & Flops series. I genuinely have no idea how it’s already the end of September. The music that was released in September tended to be a little more moody and introspective, which is unsurprising considering the season change. Happy listening!
Gus Dapperton’s Orca is bedroom pop bliss. The album has a relatively consistent mid-level energy, and it’s perfect music to just hang out to. Orca definitely has the Tik Tok sound, but in the best way possible. Dapperton’s second album, Orca is much more lyrically vulnerable and explores Dapperton’s own struggles with mental health.
Orca’s second track, “First Aid”, is one of the album’s standouts, and it’s definitely one of the more emotional songs on the album. Throughout First Aid, the energy starkly shifts back and forth from high to low as Dapperton transitions from solemnly musing to desperate belting.
My favorite track from Orca is “My Say So”. Lyrically, it’s not exactly a happy song, but sonically it’s an upbeat, catchy track that pretty much requires head bopping. A critique of Orca is that the album tries too hard to be lyrically deep, but that’s about what can be expected from an artist with an e-boy persona. Something that I really like about the rise of bedroom pop, and this album specifically, is that it’s a bridge between the signature goofiness of indie music and the catchiness of pop. Bedroom pop is rebranding indie pop in a uniquely Gen Z way, and its newfound palatability is significantly widening indie music’s audience.
Just broke up with someone? Not over an ex? Not sure what you’re feeling about a certain someone? Yeah, this beautifully messy EP is for you. FLETCHER broke up with her ex, quarantined with her, wrote an entire EP about it and then had said ex film the music videos for the EP. And yes, it’s blatantly obvious on the EP that FLETCHER was going through a lot of mixed emotions as a result. The S(ex) Tapes is a lyrically honest pop-synth project that details every contradictory post-breakup emotion.
If the order of The S(ex) Tapes’ tracks were scrambled, the uniquely distinct narrative would be virtually unchanged. Each song dives into a different post-breakup headspace, and it’s very obvious FLETCHER wants to show that the healing process is not linear since the EP ends with the track “Sex (With My Ex)”. Additionally, the EP’s songs’ themes tend to contradict each other. This makes The S(ex) Tapes feel much more authentic because it’s reflective of the pinball-like emotions that happen in your head after a breakup. This is an EP that allows the listener to be emo and twerk at the same time, and for that it is a certified bop.
This queen has earned herself a spot in Bops & Flops for two consecutive months now. Miley Cyrus covered Blondie’s song “Heart Of Glass” for the iHeart Music Festival, and naturally, it went viral. Heart Of Glass was originally a disco song, but Cyrus turned it into rock ‘n’ roll, Joan Jett inspired perfection.
Cyrus’ distinct voice punches and wails on every note, which made for a high-energy, fun performance. Even if “Heart Of Glass” doesn’t end up on Cyrus’ upcoming album, She Is Miley Cyrus, at least we can hold on to the single version.
“Pa Ti” is the light, fun and sexy song that I expected from JLo and Maluma. While it’s not the most original sounding song, it demands to be danced to, and for that, it’s a bop. The gist of the lyrics’ English translation is that the singer is very wealthy, and everything they have is for you, or “pa ti”.
“Skinny Skinny” is Ashton Irwin’s first venture into solo artistry, and it’s fantastic. Irwin is best known for being the drummer of Australian pop-rock band Five Seconds of Summer. And no, don’t worry, he isn’t leaving the band. “Skinny Skinny” consists of an acoustic guitar, electric guitar and vocal harmonies. On Instagram, Irwin wrote that the song was written about “what it feels like to struggle not feeling at home in your own body”. “Skinny Skinny’s” lyrics and overall sonic quality are almost haunting, which is a unique artistic take on the concept of body image. “Skinny Skinny” is the name of the “demon” who is responsible for aforementioned body image issues, and Irwin’s drawing of this demon is depicted on the cover art.
This single is the first release off of Irwin’s upcoming 10 track album Superbloom. As the first taste of Irwin’s album as well as his first single as a solo artist, “Skinny Skinny” proves promising. Instead of a cheesy self-love pop ballad, Irwin created a highly cerebral and artistic song that inspires resilience while confronting the unpleasant realities of not liking what you see in the mirror.
My problem is with everything but SZA. I have yet to encounter a song with more than three artists on it that’s any good, and “Hit Different” is no exception. SZA’s voice is beautiful as always, but the grating repetition of the lyric “hit different” is just not enjoyable to listen to. The whole thing just sounds messy.