The debut album from Stepdad is an addictive one. Combining 80’s influenced indie-dance pop from bands like Passion Pit, Naked + Famous, The Limousines, and Swiss Lips with some very earthy style, this band is inventive. On the band’s first LP, Wildlife Pop, they manage to show off an impressive ability to incorporate a catchy chorus with some odd sounds. The album has some quirks that detract from its overall appeal but it remains an outstanding listen.
The most recognizable accolade for Stepdad should instantly be the band’s programming. Nothing the band does in this department sounds the same from song to song and they bounce around in styles frequently. Sometimes they’ll have something that sounds like I Fight Dragons (“My Leather, My Fur, My Nails.”) Sometimes they sound like Naked + Famous (“Mystery in the Faking.”) But they never sound the exact same from song to song with their programming. They have similar styles from track to track but the sounds and beats never sound the same. This doesn’t happen with a lot of music in this genre.
The programming is unique and enjoyable but all of the songs aren’t. Vocalist ultramark has a great voice and a lot of his songs are amazing, but just because the beats sound different from song to song doesn’t mean the vocals do. He sings the same way in the same pattern on a few too many songs. The music is original enough to where this doesn’t kill the listener’s ability to jump into it, but it’s a strong detraction from an otherwise amazing album. To his credit, ultramark’s flaws- doing this two- maybe three times- is overshadowed by what he did right with this album- writing some amazing songs and providing an invigorating vocal that stirs up some adrenaline.
Stepdad’s debut isn’t at the top of this genre and it’s not something you’ll want to listen to immediately and over and over but you’re likely to find something that you’ll enjoy if you give it a chance. There are some songs here that will get listened to over and over, there are others that will enjoy a ninety-second preview. Stepdad’s debut is still a impressive one, how they build on this and make something even more interesting the second time around will be interesting.