There aren’t a whole lot of truly indie artists who do pop music well. To do so, requires a student of musical history combined with the rarest of things – an adult who remembers what it was like to be 13 I speak here not of the Hollywood understanding of what it means to be 13 – that is, to be a preternaturally 13 who acts like a 25 year old. No, what I mean here someone who remembers how confusing, terrifying, and exhilarating it feels to be on the cusp of something non-understandable. It’s messy, exciting, and terrifying. You say terrible and terribly silly things all the time that you obsess about later, double and triple questioning yourself.Belsapadore’s eponymous album, is a really effective pop record because Justin Hoenke, the force behind the band, remembers what it feels like and embraces it while trying to explain those feelings to the rest of us who would rather for get it.
There’s the swagger of “Love, Love, Love Me” with its disco beat that never sounds quite sincere, quite face value. The feeling isn’t quite irony, but a knowing nod of the head. The lyrics read like a command: “Love me.”, but when translated through Hoenke’s vocals, they become a plea for love.
The piano vamp of “The Biggest Mistake” likewise melded with lyrics like “I’m so great/In every way” never really sound like cock-rock clichés. As both writer and performer, Hoenke has a sense of how his lyrics read on the page and works to undermine them, to interpret and transform them as part of the performance. (the danger here is that the listener won’t understand the irony; witness the 90s and Nirvana’s legions of jock fans horrifying Cobain).Belsapadore falls on the Cheap Trick end of pop rather than the Lady Gaga end (although tracks like “Cookie Cutter” and it’s fat bottom practically beg for a dance remix). It’s a smart, funny, handcrafted album.
Belsapadore is available for free download and deserves a place in your New Year’s Eve mix