(Self-released, digital download)
How can a band be un-Google-able? In the Internet Age, it’s quite a feat to elude the gaze of the world’s most powerful search engine. When it comes to the seemingly omniscient web, it takes a conscious effort to be “off the grid.” Or, as in the case of Winooski band thePROPER, to invent a wholly generic name that defies Google’s complex algorithms. It’s probably a good thing the Band existed when they did. Could you imagine trying to find them online if they were just starting out now? (“Did you mean Robbie Robinson?” No, dammit!)
In the modern world, you really have to want not to be found. Most bands, of course, desperately want to be discovered. So there’s something uniquely satisfying about stumbling upon a band seemingly so unconcerned with taking advantage of the world’s greatest marketing tool. That’s doubly true when a band’s debut record is as compelling and roundly excellent as thePROPER’s tulip/tsunami. It feels like an album out of time. Discovering its lean, pop-rock charms is akin to finding that diamond in the rough in the cutout bin at your favorite record store — remember those?
The album’s opening track, “Hollywoodland,” is a Weezer-ly, melancholy, 6/8 acoustic ballad that explodes into the following cut, “Theatrics,” a sparkling pop gem buffed by staccato distortion bursts and polished with slide trombone. Throughout the album’s brisk, lo-fi, 30-plus minutes, thePROPER evoke touchstones of late-’90s and early-2000s alt-rock. “Caralina” is the sort of winking pop that made the world fall in love with Everclear. “The Broken Glass Kids” could be a b-side on a Presidents of the United States of America record. “Systematic Junk” is slippery like the Eels used to be.
That’s not to say tulip/tsuanmi sounds dated. In fact, as indie rock increasingly tries to out-quirk itself, the band’s gleeful pop bombast and cheekiness is refreshing. This is unapologetic pop rock, played with heart, urgency and irreverence. And, yes, it’s quite a find, with or without Google’s help.
tulip/tsunami by thePROPER is available at theproper.bandcamp.com.