“look at all those lilies there must be fucking hundreds”
There’s a definite infantilization of pain to naming your cutesy, home-spun, lo-fi band ‘Bedbug’. Cleary Mr Bedbug has never gotten the damn things, or else he’d be quaking in his boots at the mention of the name. Lest he have flashbacks to burning everything he’s ever loved.
But he is, in someway, aware of how terrible they are and that attracts him to it. Just as he is attracted to the childish, and unironic emotional melodrama of teenage-dom. The self-imposed, pointless pain of it. A fascination he shows by cranking up that eye melting pink on his Bandcamp page, and filling his merchandise with cutely rendered cartoon birds like it was the margins of his geometry homework.
And the music, all dreamy synths and plucky guitars. Silly field recordings and a croaking pubescent vocal delivery. Almost like a Xiu Xiu fed entirely on a diet of Neat Beats, and Death Cab For Cutie. It’s all a very blunt and direct metaphor for teenage heartbreak, and adolescent pain, or as Bedbug’s Dylan put it “just tryin to write the album i needed when i was 16”.
But Bedbug is more compelling than the packaging lets on, a lot more than any ho-hum, navel-gazing bedroom pop you might find elsewhere, at least. Like many a rising Bandcamp star, people like Alex G or Car Seat Headrest, Bedbug excels with genre diversity and pronounced songwriting style. Cutting his own self-seriousness with hip-hop featuring interludes, and bouncy Postal Service-inspired indietronica singles.
It’s not just mind-melting, moody boredom. Instead, you find yourself plugged into Melissa’s Poem interludes and the wry way that his songs seem to anti-climax. Cutting out their own knees at every step of the way. And sure, he’s got some shoddily recorded acoustic guitar duets with a female singer, but before you can ever roll your eyes, the song will hard stop, or reconstruct itself into something of genuine urgency. Often shifting between recording qualities in an almost jarring and confrontational fashion. As the warm crackles and pops of a single microphone setup will give way to something darker and more hi-fi.
In the time since Bedbug’s breakout 2016 album, if i got smaller, he’s already begun to play-with and confront the form of his style. His new album i’ll count to heaven in years without seasons almost feels like a breakout in pupa. Perhaps a bit too un-personal and angsty for its own good as the subtler, more compelling elements of Dylan’s songwriting can become lost into the ocean of tone, but it remains mildly miraculous. And a mild miracle is still something worth noting.