Superorganism — Superorganism
March 2, 2018
London, UK / Domino Records
Superorganism is the self-titled debut record from the rising indie pop eight-piece, Superorganism. The band have been releasing singles from this album since 2017, which are all attached to these Photoshop-heavy videos that serve to exemplify the fact that Superorganism are a product of the Internet age.
This is made all the more clear by the group’s origin story: now-lead singer Orono Noguchi met New Zealand indie pop outfit The Eversons in Japan, where they bonded over their mutual love of memes. Since then, the collective has brought on even more aspiring musicians, with seven of the eight now cohabiting an East End house (and eighth member Soul residing in Australia). The band truly epitomises the name “Superorganism”; a multi-generational unit working together to achieve one common objective.
That’s the vibe I get from the quasi-title track “SPRORGNSM”, which works well as the centrepiece of the album. The grimy bassline of the verses bursts into a bouncy dance groove in the chorus, backing these group vocals that really drive the sentiment of this song home with mileage to spare.
“Everybody Wants to Be Famous” is equally as enthralling, with an instrumental so downright cheerful it could fit in a LocoRoco video game. The lyrics to this song have the ambition of a Disney Channel sitcom in the best way possible, with the foresight of the group’s current success to back it up.
Feeling like a boss, and
Staring at the stars, it
Doesn’t matter the cost, ’cause
Everybody wants to be famous
I’m calling the shots, so
See you over at Mars, it
Doesn’t matter the cost, seems like
Everybody wants to be famous
Sadly, much of the rest of the album fails to get me excited for what the band are offering here. Superorganism only really functions like a superorganism in the sense that a lot of the songs utilise the same ideas, but only occasionally stumbling upon one that works well.
Opening track “It’s All Good” rides a sleepy beat that sounds promising enough underneath Orono’s indie songstress vocals, but these are paired sharply with these speech synthesiser vocals (that appear in spades throughout the album), as well as some descending group vocals that are more jarring than they are pleasant. The whole tune has about as much tact as an episode of Pee-wee’s Playhouse.
I get a similar impression from cuts like “Nobody Cares”, which isn’t inherently a bad song, save for the sneezing/crunching/farting beat that dominates the verses. I can appreciate the message here, turning the “nobody cares” refrain around to mean that nobody is going to stop you from doing the things you want, but… I wish the band didn’t apply this mantra during songwriting, because too many of these songs fall into the same vocal melodies and slicked-back instrumentals. “Something for Your M.I.N.D.” is probably one of the worst culprits of this formula; the only defining feature that cements it as being my least favourite cut on the album is the pretentious lyrics that sound like they were written by throwing word magnets at a fridge.
I know you think I’m a sociopath
“My lovely prey,” I’m a cliché
Make way, I’m in my Pepsi mood
Mama needs food, how about a barbecue?
For us, the bourgeoisie, so carefree
Remember when we?
I don’t know why you need to get by
I could praise tracks like “The Prawn Song” or “Relax” for changing things up a little more with their creative sampling, but by the time these songs are halfway through the samples become so incessant that it’s difficult to remember what made them compelling to begin with.
“Nai’s March” has one of the more heartfelt performances on the entire album, as Orono sings about Tokyo and her fears about the city being subject to a catastrophic earthquake, but even this is interrupted by a series of sample snippets. Maybe the structure of the song is supposed to represent a disparity between Japanese culture and the potential for disaster, but even so, it takes too much away from the core of the song for me to enjoy it as a whole.
I don’t think the majority of these songs are awful, or even beyond salvaging, but I do think that they suffer from being over-produced with the intent of creating quirky, next-level Internet pop. The sad truth is, the worst parts of this album sound like the product of a board meeting of businesspeople who are desperately trying to connect with the youth by using memes that they don’t understand.
There are still other tracks that I enjoy, like the stormy “Reflections on the Screen”, which is one of the strongest Gen Z anthems here with its lyrics about online relationships. I also love the Avalanches-tinged “Night Time” as the bustling closer to the album; it’s a good bookend to match the morning vibes that introduced the band on the first track.
All this calling, keeps me going
Just recalling, you and me
And there’s something, so affecting
In the reflections, on my screen
It’s unfortunate that Superorganism’s debut is such a tumultuous listen, because there is a lot of potential to be found here. Hopefully, on the band’s next project they’ll expand upon their instrumental palette so that they can rely less on using excessive sampling and vocal contortions to keep their music sounding interesting.
Besides, if a superorganism is known for anything, it’s adapting and thriving.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Everybody Wants to Be Famous / SPRORGNSM / Night Time