It’s half-past-four and the Thanksgiving meal my family spent two days preparing has been devoured in less than 30 minutes. That in itself is a miraculous feat, but what’s more exciting is that we have survived dinner without any offensive comments from my elderly relatives. I take this as a win.
As I retire to the living room for a post-Thanksgiving nap, I replace the din of familial argument with my own music. The first song up on my Spotify Discover playlist is “Simple” by CHERUB, a band I’ve always liked but never appreciated enough. In my tryptophan-induced haze, I pull up the rest of their album.
CHERUB, an electro-indie duo from Nashville, was formed in 2010 by Jordan Kelley and Jason Huber, who studied music production together at Middle Tennessee State University. They built their fan base by making their songs payment-optional and, most recently, they played at Lollapalooza, South by Southwest and Bonnaroo. Their 2015 debut album, Year of the Caprese, combines post-disco, synth-pop and funk. Their most popular song, “Doses and Mimosas,” charted at No. 42 on Billboard’s Rock Airplay chart and 23rd on the Alternative Songs Chart.
Opening the album with “Simple,” CHERUB makes electronica soulful, combining traditional synthetic elements with meaningful lyrics. Reflecting, “I just want to live it all with ones I love / And simple minds lead to simple lives,” lead singer Kelley muses on his personal goals in life. Transitioning seamlessly into “Disco Shit,” the electronic elements remain while the substantial lyrics leave. With dance beats and psychedelic components, “Disco Shit” describes party culture and drug scenes, finishing the song on a muted note, presumably mimicking the “underwater” effect of said drugs.
“This Song Is for You” is intimate, slowing things down with a simple, syncopated synth, singing, “We were the last ones standing / Never knew that life would end up being so random.” It’s reflective and lyric-heavy, focusing on previous relationships over future worries.
“Doses & Mimosas” even uses pop can sounds to create an electronic pop feel. An extremely cynical chorus, “To all the bitch-ass hoes / That hate me the most / Oh yeah, I hate you too,” probably played a role in the song’s rise to fame amongst adolescents. By singing all the verses in falsetto and emphasizing the synth, CHERUB’s newest hit is unlike anything on the radio today.
“<3 (Heart)” starts off similarly to the rest of the album, with an electronic beat and pop-infused lyrics. However, the second half of the song devolves quickly into an acoustic cry for help. With nothing but a broken and strained voice backed by the plucking of a guitar, Kelley chokes out, “Just wait until I get the nerve to break / Your precious little heart.” In an unexpected, but not unwelcome twist, CHERUB showcases an entirely new side to their musical ability.
While CHERUB’s music is different from most popular musicians’, the range of styles and topics on Year of the Caprese should put it on the top of your to-listen list. I can certainly attest that it’s perfect for that post-Thanksgiving nap.