The internet collective release their much-hyped debut with fairly mixed results
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Meme culture can be infuriating. They come and go without hesitation; the moment you think you understand a meme, it is irrelevant. You could spend days upon days trawling the internet for a meme that hasn’t been butchered to the death yet, but the moment you contribute to said meme, your joke falls flat. It is a miracle how the culture hasn’t died yet. It is this culture that Superorganism have found themselves occupying.
The eight-piece band were conceived on the internet before being birthed and growing up into the dizzying trip of the edgy side of the web. Forming after musicians Harry, Emily, Tucan and Robert Strange (all stage names) befriended high school student Orono Noguchi after a gig, Superorganism expanded into a multi-cultural and international group.
Arctic Monkeys have Sheffield. LCD Soundsystem have New York. Kendrick Lamar has Compton. On their debut, Superorganism herald their adopted internet home as the incredible powerful being that it is. Their songs coexist in a baffling and surreal world full of laughter and giddy wonder. And whales. A lot of whales. Watching a Superorganism video is an attempt of seeing drama students on acid through their eyes. Colourful and majestic, objects fly around while the effervescent songs bounce and fizz in the forefront.
However attention-grabbing they are, the visuals are only half of the vision. It is the music that turned the heads of many a-blog back in January of last year with the release of ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D’. The singles that followed only helped to further the intrigue of this mysterious band. Four more singles were released in anticipation of this debut, making for half the record.
It is this strategy which has created arguably the biggest friction with their first album: Superorganism try very hard to create something unique and sticky, but like memes, the more you hear them, the less interesting they are.
Consisting of ten tracks, ‘Superorganism’ is a fascinating album. They transcend reality, forging a world of their own where infectious pop hooks and psychedelic soundscapes are as common as the air they breathe. Opening number ‘It’s All Good’ is an attempt to welcome the listener to this world. Starting a loose theme of “a day in the life of”, with motivation speaker Tony Robbins being sampled, Superorganism‘s blueprint is laid out for all to see. It is cartoonish, playful and wildly sporadic; child-like vocals harmonise on the euphoric chorus.
You cannot fault Superorganism for not trying hard enough. Each song is packed to the rafters with layers upon layers of kaleidoscopic splendour. Take album highlight ‘The Prawn Song’, for example. When the hook explodes into its multi-coloured form, it is as if someone has accidentally opened a door to the gates of hell. Chaos ensues before the door slams shut and the song continues without a pause for air.
The greatest issue lies in its release strategy. With half the songs getting doled out before the record’s release (a couple of which have been out for over one year), this is an album of two-halves. The unreleased songs are dejected from the narrative of the singles. As a result it is incoherent and awkward. The last single ‘Reflections On The Screen’ is a slow-burner with a chugging rhythm and a matching lack of enthusiasm from singer Orono. Placed as track five on the track-listing, the rest of the album has to work extra hard to keep the energy levels high.
Behind the persona the songs are very hit-and-miss. ‘Nai’s March’ is fun on the surface level with the tempo change half-way through but the first-half is exhaustive. The tiring and despondent ‘Nobody Cares’ is only saved by the gnarly bass injection. Even the great-at-first ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D.’ loses appeal after a year of radio airplay.
Orono’s lyrics are unquestionably enticing. ‘The Prawn Song’ is a superb dose of salt-coated obtuse pop as it is with its uncontrolled bouncy beat. The added bonus of lyrics like: “Have you ever seen the prawn cause a world war? Have you ever kissed a prawn; got a cold sore?“, is a welcome delicacy.
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While the production of these songs are the USP, the band’s harmony is unavoidable. It is unsurprising how well they collide with each other given that they all (bar one) live together in a house in London.
Superorganism‘s world is one of internet-spawned trends and rejecting standardised pop conformity. Initially they bonded over their collective love of memes. This love is honoured with unashamed adoration of the edgy side of the internet. Their self-titled debut is very much like a meme: you love it at first, you then get used to it and eventually are worn out by it. There is a dangerous risk of this band evaporating into the web’s atmosphere but while they are in trend, it is best to enjoy it while it lasts.
‘Superorganism’ is out now via Domino Recording Company. The full track listing is…
01. It’s All Good
02. Everybody Wants to be Famous
03. Nobody Cares
04. Reflections on the Screen
06. Something for Your M.I.N.D.
07. Nai’s March
08. The Prawn Song
10. Night Time