While the “dream pop” label is becoming well-worn in this day and age of DIY, there truly is no band more deserving of the title than Victoria/Toronto’s Hush Pup. To hear Ida Maidstone (Triple Gangers) sing is probably what it would sound like if an angel opened its mouth.
Noted, it’s high praise, but the accompanying instrumentals help to accent her breathy and emotive vocals. While Darlene, the band’s debut EP, gave only a tantalizing glimpse into the band with three songs, Waterwings doubles the dosage with six—yes—dreamy songs.
And it’s really hard to get more perfect than the opener “Thailand.” Crystalline synths pulse before Maidstone’s vocals come in, singing about keeping a “stash” in Thailand. The song would already be great if it was just four minutes of Maidstone and subtle synths, but halfway through it shifts gears, with an 8-bit synth beat and some light drums adding a new dimension.
The band is no one-trick pup though; “Swimming” weaves together a beautiful combination of a repeating guitar line, deep bass and distant, sometimes woozy synths to truly make this song feel like it’s taking place underwater. It also has a penchant for shapeshifting, later becoming something like a lo-fi campfire song.
“Magic Hour” may be the band’s sexiest song to date—the synthesizers are so finely-tuned they sound like strings and a gentle few notes on guitar make this an ideal song to listen to at 2 a.m. as everything begins to blur around. “In the Dark” also appropriately belongs in the nighttime, with Maidstone’s delivery and accompanying synths/guitar stretching out just a tad longer to induce that wee-hour delirium. And despite its tough-sounding title, “Fighter” also takes it easy.
Not to give the impression that the band is all about slow jams—”Wait Up” kicks things up a notch with a more guitar-focused melody and crunchier lyrics like “Gonna give to ya/In the car…”
The Bandcamp description of this EP says it was “recorded at the noise floor, on a magical island” and it shouldn’t take much to believe that Hush Pup does, in fact, originate from a mythical place that no one else has access to.
Top Tracks: “Thailand”; “Swimming”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +*swoop*