Laptop Funeral’s newest, self released album Pretty Punk is out now
Who: Raul Valerio
What: Experimental Pop, Bedroom Pop, The New Lo-Fi
Where: Weston, Florida
Why: There’s been a new sound bubbling to the surface of the lo-fi scene for quite a while now. Bearing less in common with Sebadoh than it does with Frank Ocean’s Blond or Dntel’s work with The Postal Service, it’s the sound of ‘bedroom pop’ embracing the cultural exchange of the 21st century. Listen to, for example, “I’ll Be Here” off Laptop Funeral’s fascinating new(ish) album Pretty Punk, or “ Sportstar” off (Sandy) Alex G’s new album Rocket.
Notice that warm blend of effect-manipulated voices and classic guitar driven bedroom pop, all smothered with bright synthetic tones. It simultaneously evokes both the cutesy, emotional indietronica of Dntel, and a classic, intimate, lo-fi indie-ness. Both timeless and immediate. It captures the heart of a style which has persisted for over two decades, but looks forward to the bleeding edge of the genre’s sonics.
On a track like “Purple Hair Dye”, the laboring drum machine rhythms, and pitch shifted harmonies capture the hazy, cloudy eyed bliss of the song perfectly. Proving it’s genre-pushing sonic were not just viable, but a vital element to the bedroom melancholy Laptop Funeral is trying to build here.
With Blond and Endless, Frank Ocean made one of the biggest musical connections in recent memory, finding the ways in which alternative R&B, post-808s And Heartbreak hip hop, and lo-fi indie could communicate in a way that felt genuine, and significant. Bringing along lo-fi champion (Sandy) Alex G along for the ride only further reinforced his commitment to cause, and Alex G’s more expansive post-Blond work further proved that the ideas were sticking. Follow the trail down to Laptop Funeral and you can see the flowers that are beginning to sprout from Frank Ocean and Alex G’s seeds, as a new generation of lo-fi pioneers begin picking up the pieces. Reinvigorating a genre that hasn’t drastically changed since the days of cLOUDDEAD and Sparklehorse.
Of course, Raul (Laptop Funeral) is only 18 years old himself, and his work here on Pretty Punk certainly doesn’t hide that fact. Filled with nervous musical half-steps, and slightly unconvinced songwriting, it’s the sound of someone stretching the arms outward, exploring the space and finding their voice. And while it is, despite its flaws, an enjoyable listen front to back, it more than anything, a confirmation that Laptop Funeral has a lot of headroom to grow into. Raul is (self-reportedly) working on a new EP under the Funeral Laptop name, due out soon(-ish?), which will serve to prove if he can make those next big steps from interesting sonic painter to captivating songwriter and self-assured artist.