James & Evander – Bummer Pop

Adam Myatt and Glenn Jackson of James & Evander

James & Evander's Winning Full-Length Debut

I’ve been sitting on James & Evander’s Bummer Pop for the better part of a week. I hadn’t committed to writing about it before now, because every time I think about the album, I’ve found myself craving to play it yet another time rather than attempt to explain all the non-immediate intricacies that make it so fully rewarding.

James & Evander (Adam Myatt and Glenn Jackson) are an audiophile duo from the Oakland vicinity who have been playing music since their university days back in 2005 and winning fans around the bay area and beyond since 2007, thanks to a collection of well-received 7″ singles and EPs. Bummer Pop is their debut full-length LP, but you’d be hard-pressed to fathom that after a handful of listens, letting their warm electronic soundscapes nestle in between your ears. “Abigamy,” the lead track and first single, vibrantly opens the sure-handed debut with a glorious, magic-hour ambiance backed with liquid supporting synth lines.

The vocals throughout the majority of Bummer Pop are delivered in a calm, stretching mumblecore sort of register that translates on the first couple listens as another subtly beautiful instrument wiped upon the lush canvas alongside the synths and keys. It’s an effect that can occur with “Ambigamy” and several other Bummer Pop gems on the first few listens. You may find yourself fully mesmerized by the intoxicating interplay of it all without feeling the weight of the songs now and again. It’s not detrimental to the album in the least, because the choruses get their claws in you soon enough and the lyrics start floating up to the surface once you’ve lived with the album for a time. There are songs like “Long Distance,” where the emotional depth and blue textures are up-front, hand-in-hand with lines like “it can feel sometimes like the distance isn’t so great/that we can just go online to click on each other’s face” all the while a slow tempo beat dances alongside a synthesizer line sounding like a wave rolling up to shore and then sliding back towards the vast horizon. Then, the chorus kicks in, and James & Evander  expose the sonic equivalent of sun breaking through overcast skies on an enchanting shoreline.

To landlocked ears, Bummer Pop is the always refreshing sound of glorious summer dusk up and down the California coast, north of each metropolis, up the 101, through the Sierra Nevada Mountains and under looming Redwoods. Slower standout songs like the somber “Nostalia” and elegant “I Don’t Mind” make you aware that sunlight will die behind the mountains and fall below the horizon now and again, but the kaleidoscopic beauty and incandescent moments are never far away. James & Evander have quietly crafted the a magnificent album for the coming summer, whether you’re the sort of person who longs for the friendly confines of a communal campfire, the shimmering city lights after dark or the stirring, golden streaks of the mid-year sky. Bummer Pop isn’t the first album of its kind; The Postal Service, Beach House, M83 and Miracle Fortress have all released albums this densely-packed with sublime atmospheres and magnetic pulls over the years. At the very least, Bummer Pop deserves to be recognized as a fully-realized, wonderful debut. At the most, it deserves consideration for skirting their esteemed canon.


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