Review: Superorganism by Superorganism

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Superorganism album art

Alien children’s music. That’s probably the best way I can come up with to explain this bedroom pop blender of a band. Superorganism have the confidence of a platinum artist and the simplicity of bedroom pop and the weird focus of that brief moment in the 90’s when bands like the Flaming Lips were getting massive record deals. They are also adorable. Superorganism also met online and had Rolling Stone talking before they even were all in the same room. They also used to have band dinners over Skype. Frank Ocean and Ezra Koenig have talked them up or spun their records. Their press releases typically say there are eight people in the band, while their photos typically contain seven people. Its all a psychotic pile of sugar and their lead singer is a 17-year-old girl from Japan. Superorganism is a 1970’s space t-shirt come to life.

As good as the story is it would be pointless without songs. Superorganism has songs though. A lot of them and although none of them sparkle as bright as the impromptu masterpiece “Something for Your M.I.N.D.,” the whole record teems with energy like a koi pond where the fish are swimming in Red Bull.

The general idea is a mix of the playfulness of the Flaming Lips’ Transmissions From the Satellite Heart and the light-hearted melodies of the best Elephant 6 bands mixed often absurdly with the left field sample tendencies of Cornelius and overall jolliness of The Go! Team and/or Polyphonic Spree. Examples abound — “Relax” is a simple pop song elevated by a deceptively uncomplicated melody, David Bowie electric guitars and shrewd sampling. “Everybody Wants to Be Famous” sounds exactly like what you hoped that Miley Cyrus and Wayne Coyne record would sound like.

It’s a hearty mix, but that’s not to communicate that Superorganism are just good curators, they also are fresh creators. Album opener “It’s All Good” tiptoes forward like its walking on thin ice until the whole band jumps up and cracks the ice and falls down a psychedelic hole. There are a lot of people singing and random sound effects mix with alternative rock flourishes and then an Anthony Robbins sample. Its slightly more bonkers than that sounds but it works. Like if someone put all the leftover spices on a steak it is was somehow perfect yet unrepeatable.

“Nobody Cares” is a teenage anthem for the post-modern inflated sense of self. That sounds like a dig, but it isn’t because the song has a clever enough sense to poke fun at itself rather than wallow in it. “Reflections On the Screen” is the sing-along from the children’s movie that never got made. And its ruminations on screen time are fun and know they are obvious. This is an important distinction, when Arcade Fire pensively belts out some ham-fisted “phones are bad” anthem, eye rolling is an obvious reaction because when you tell someone something they already know like you are saving their life it will never be effective. Superorganism is laughing along with our post-modern insecurities rather than jabbing the bruise.

Their vowel-less pseudo title-track and band modus operandi all in one is a merry go round of psychedelic sound and it kind of sounds like all their songs at once. “I want to be a Superorganism” goes the chorus. I don’t know what that means, but I don’t care—nobody cares, we just want to be a Superorganism also. Maybe the name is some kind of ultimate Transformer, where instead of being visible pieces of a greater whole, the individual members are lost in a blender of creativity until their personal talents, ideas and methods are dissolved into a hot stew of perpetual anonymity in the name of art. In a world that values individualism to a fault, that sounds kind of beautiful. A MINUS