Album Review: Superorganism Makes Pop Maximalism Cool Again

The bizarro eight-piece's self-titled effort offers up a bounty of rich aural textures




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The Lowdown: As we emphasized in our profile of the band last month, Superorganism don’t make a whole lot of sense. They began making music while spread across the globe, communicating via message boards and Skype before somehow scoring a hit single with the effervescent “Something for Your M.I.N.D.” Now, the eight-piece lives in a house-cum-studio in East London, where they helped refine the 10 bubbly, kaleidoscopic tracks on their debut, which is remarkably unified considering both their maximalist aesthetic and kooky origin story. 

The Good: What Superorganism does so well is hitch its peripatetic array of whimsical aural textures — crackling static, wet spritzes, burbling streams, garbled dialogue — to steady, inviting beats and familiar melodies. And while there’s joy to be found in the sprawling, kaleidoscopic pop of “Everybody Wants to Be Famous” and “SPRORGNSM”‘s stoned, intergalactic chorus, the band embraces a trace of soft, bristling melancholy with the yearning “Reflections on the Screen”. But even at its most reserved, Superorganism exude a welcome sense of optimism in ways that aren’t cloying or overly sentimental. 

The Bad: Superorganism’s maximalist approach is its appeal, but not every song is served by it. “Nai’s March”, for example, opens with an evocative ode to Tokyo that, in itself, could function as a soothing piece of ambiance. It’s a shame, then, when the song abruptly careens into what sounds like an arcade filled with quacking ducks. That might, in a kind of roundabout way, help illustrate the general experience of wandering through urban Japan, but it doesn’t make for an especially enjoyable experience. Its follow-up, “The Prawn Song”, is similarly frustrating, if a touch more focused. There’s a childlike giddiness to the track, but it’s so overloaded with samples and whimsy that the hook at its center is barely discernible.

The Verdict: When everything’s clicking, Superorganism evokes the genre-hopping hooks of Weezer set against Animal Collective’s sonic experimentation as filtered through Architecture from Helsinki’s pop maximalism. Unlike other bands that flaunt a massive ensemble — looking at you, Polyphonic Spree — Superorganism really makes the most of their members. You can hear them on every song, and the result is a sense of community that’s anything but intimate. This LP is loud, clanging, and communal, but also, in its own way, dreamlike. There’s something warped at the core of these songs, as if they’ve been yanked through some kind of wormhole and have reemerged into our world as aliens. And, for the most part, that makes for some fascinating listening.  

Essential Tracks: “Something for Your M.I.N.D.”, “Night Time”, and “Reflections on the Screen”