Miami, Florida based Pocket of Lollipops are doing things their way, beholden to no overt influences, and carving out a niche in the indie music scene all their own. Their eight song full length studio album Be My Non-Friend Friend is their first release since 2016’s eighteen song opus Thanks Theo. The husband and wife duo behind this project, bassist Maitejosune Urrechaga and drummer Tony Kapel, demonstrate the same musical chemistry and dedication to songwriting craft on their new album that sustained them over five previous studio releases but they bring a further individualistic bent to Be My Non-Friend Friend missing from those earlier releases. It is arguably their finest moment yet and further distinguishes them from other indie acts.
The dissonant and clear experimental qualities of their music are apparent with the album’s first track “The Cow & The Clown”. The words come off as more a collection of impressions than linear lyrical musings, but they fit well with the rough-hewn musical textures and Urrechaga’s vocals manifest a surprising emotive edge while providing additional atmosphere as well. The duo’s music reflects their talents as visual artists – Pocket of Lollipops uses music in the same way a painter uses color – there are no barriers, little observation of convention, and the sole rule is allowing the song to emerge as pure as possible.
Kapel contributes some vocals to the second track “Lavender Canary” and the impressionistic lyrics continue over a rollercoaster arrangement brimming with distorted guitars and towering washes of sound. It extends the experimental slant of the opening track a little further with its insistence on never adhering to a hidebound arrangement and packs countless surprises in a track that doesn’t even last two and a half minutes.
“Tiny Pants” has a much moodier feel than the aforementioned two tracks and a brief elliptical lyric Urrechaga delivers as a spoken word performance. The musical arrangement revolves around Urrechaga’s bass and a light touch of keyboards, but some may find it needs for variation to justify its nearly four minute running time. The fifth track “Face Value” has a psychedeliczed punk rock feel and opens at a torrid pace. Urrechaga makes her vocal presence felt, but Kapel has a larger presence here than we heard on the earlier “Lavender Canary:. The music threatens to break down at various points during the performance, but recovers its balance and continues pushing forward.
They share vocals again on the album’s title track. It boasts the album’s most direct lyric, though the songwriting still can’t resist tossing in some apparently random impressions for good measure. Urrechaga’s bass playing is omnipresent in the mix, much like we hear on the earlier “Tiny Pants”, and gives the song weight it might otherwise lack. There are hints of a scene emerging from lyrics of the album finale “All Fixed & Then Some”, but Pocket of Lollipops resists ever spelling things out for listeners and instead leaves things open-ended and begging for interpretation. Kapel and Urrechaga once again share the vocal duties for the song and strike an interesting contrast between her singing and his spoken word contributions. Idiosyncratic scarcely does this release justice. Pocket of Lollipops are working in their own zone with Be My Non-Friend Friend and produced a work quite unlike anything else you’ll hear in modern music.
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