Imagine for a moment a balloon slowly rising through the air. It moves up through the sky until suddenly a sharp blast of wind knocks it in every direction. The wind calms down and then—bang!—a pop, followed by a quick descent to the ground. That’s your heart after one listen to Pop Unknown’s debut EP, Summer Season Kills.
On its first release, the quintet made up of ex-members of Mineral and Feed Lucy manages to string your emotions through a confusing maze for 22 minutes, only to end things abruptly after five songs, leaving your heart plummeting while begging for more.
The process begins innocently enough with the opener, “Follow You.” It’s a simple pledge of codependence, and as guitars drift lazily in and out of the speakers frontman Tim Lasater repeats the words “I will follow you” over and over. Before you realize it, you’re mumbling the line yourself and find that you’ve been sucked into the sound of the band and his voice. Just as Lasater follows his love, you’re following his every word.
A couple of rockers follow, one begging for a dream to last and another chastizing a girl who’s left. They’re loud but at the same time spellbinding, and you nod your head and second the emotions because the sound is far too mesmerizing to disagree with what you’re being told.
And then, suddenly, “Ink & Paper” comes on, and a keyboard screams like a siren through the chorus, slapping you around and demanding you pay attention to what Pop Unknown has got to say. The song hits you from a hundred different directions, and you’re alert, on your toes, anxious to see what comes next but at the same time nervous that the next song might hit harder.
It does—for a split second—but then some acoustic picking comes on and you ease up. Then comes a gorgeous, poppy chorus, a pledge of love which might be the best part of the record, and you drift into a state of bliss. You’re in love with a sound that couldn’t possibly get any better. It goes on, and everything in your world feels right.
And then it all crashes to earth. Lasater repeats the line “bye bye my love” a handful of times and you know what he means, the EP’s over. As soon as he’s swept your heart into the clouds, he’s taking his beautiful songs and beautiful voice and leaving you behind.
And all you can do is press “repeat” and float away again.