Welcome back to the twelfth installment of Spire’s Bops and Flops, the series where yours truly reviews the best and worst music of the month. It’s hard to believe that this month marks a whole year of Bops and Flops, and I have had such an amazing time writing these little reviews for y’all. The music this month ranges from emo to R&B to pop to psychedelic, so as usual, there’s something for everyone. Happy listening!
Pop-punk/ indie band Pale Waves is riding the wave of 2000s nostalgia. With a sound that somehow perfectly blends that of early Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne, Pale Waves’ second studio album Who Am I? will whisk you away to a time of low rise jeans and frosted tips. Even Pale Waves’ debut album felt reminiscent of the 2000s, and with the rise of ‘00s nostalgia, I can see Who Am I? Becoming quite popular.
The album’s perspective feels like that of an angsty teenager, but in the best way possible. Who am I?’s tone continuously makes dramatic shifts between emotional highs and lows. The second track Fall to Pieces, which is about a tumultuous relationship’s inevitable end, is followed by She’s My Religion, is a love song in which a romantic partner is idolized. This extreme back and forth that occurs throughout the album adds to the adolescent spirit of Who Am I?
But the album unpacks more than just youthful romantic woes — overarching themes of Who Am I? include struggles with mental health, feeling like the odd one out and identity crises. And while this record does explore subjects heavily associated with being a teenager, it’s not annoying to listen to if those years are behind you. The overall finesse of the album is mature in nature. Overall, Who Am I? is a fantastic album, and I can see it becoming quite popular with indie and pop-punk listeners.
F.U.C.K, which stands for “Friend U Can Keep”, is a lighthearted, slow song that is equal parts witty and sexy. R&B singer-songwriter Victoria Monét was featured in Bops and Flops last April for her fantastic single Dive. F.U.C.K is more of a traditional R&B song than Dive, but both have Monét’s signature clever songwriting. With lyrics like “I’m just tryna jump your bones, we don’t gotta jump the broom”, F.U.C.K is an overtly sexy song with a sense of humor.
I was quite surprised by this single. Conan Gray is well known for songs like Heather and Maniac that pull heavily from the indie, sad-boy aesthetic. But Overdrive is quite distant from Gray’s signature sound. It actually has a quite stereotypical pop sound. Overdrive isn’t the most original or exciting song I’ve ever heard, but it is a fun, upbeat and well put together song. I categorized the single as a Bop primarily because I’m excited that Gray is breaking out of his box and experimenting with new sounds and aesthetics. I’m looking forward to what he puts out next.
In his first release since September of last year, Still Woozy gives us another eclectic and psychedelic single. Rocky isn’t incredibly surprising in the sense that it definitely sounds like a Still Woozy song. But hey, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Rocky’s lowkey energy and dreamy lyrics (literally, he’s singing about dreaming) will make the listener feel like they’re floating. Listeners who are fans of Tame Impala’s last album, The Slow Rush, will love Rocky.
Sven Gamsky, who goes by the stage name Still Woozy, has not released a full-length project since his debut EP Lately EP in 2019. Since Still Woozy’s musical debut in 2017, he has released relatively little music. An album would be exciting, but I’m not too sure that we should get our hopes up.
I’m a total Swiftie, but this Love Story (Taylor’s Version) was a let down. I expected something to be different, and aside from the song being recently rerecorded, nothing set it apart from the original. Love Story is a great song, and Swift is arguably the most prolific pop artist of the 2010’s to now, but this release served no real purpose.
Somehow, accidental one-hit-wonder Rebecca Black managed to make her tragically famous song Friday even worse. This remix has to be an actual joke, because none of Black’s recent music sounds even somewhat similar to the irritating, high-pitched chaos of Friday’s remix. Also, the remix was released on February 10th, which was the 10 year anniversary of Friday’s video release on YouTube. Feel old yet?
I definitely won’t recommend this song, but Black’s other recent music is decent. She has a few explicitly LGBT+ singles as well as a general assortment of pop singles, my favorite of which is Anyway. Black has yet to release an album, but based on her new Dua Lipa meets Ashnikko aesthetic, I wouldn’t discount the possibility of a full length record in the works.