“The opposite of natural is impossible,” said Buckminster Fuller, who was known, in part, for inventing structures based on the natural world. In other words, what is constructed will always be intrinsically tied to what is natural. It was thoughts of the divide between the organic and the artificial that looped around in my head as I listened to POM’s debut self-titled EP. The three tracks (or four, if you count the “Hard Version” remix of “Echo”) explore the divide, with Robin Dann’s sweet vocals coalescing into Ben Gunning’s hypnotic R&B beats.
The first track, “Echo”, is the feeling of being day-drunk and celebrating the return of the sun as winter melts into spring. Perhaps a screwdriver, with lots of pulp. “To drip down upon you,” Dann purrs. “To orbit all around you. To be devoted to you, independent as the sun, or an echo.” In its remixed reincarnation at the end of the EP, the song turns day to night and pulses with club heaviness. From “Echo”, POM shift the sound into “I Don’t Know”, and Dann’s voice takes on a lilt reminiscent of St. Vincent. A little less dreamy and more floating detachment, but natural in its purity. Wind chimes reinforce that idea of raw sound, keeping a steady balance between the bumping synthesizer beat and the outdoor ambiance.
“Pet” shuffles this balance. Dann’s contribution swerves from her own indie pop style (she is also known as the founder and vocalist of Toronto band Bernice) into Gunning’s R&B territory. The beat is so complex it buries the vocals, which — when not at the forefront — simmer on the edge of incongruity. Ben Gunning’s falsetto contribution allows the spirit of collaboration to prevail, but his verse is a shift from the soft undulations of Robin Dann.
POM are explorative in the relationship between the natural and the synthetic, and on their EP, they show a capability for weaving both together, suggesting the difference is not a spectrum, for that would imply opposites. No, POM find the artificial within the natural, and vice-versa. POM EP brings everything that a collaboration should by embracing difference and crafting a vision of indie-pop that pushes boundaries.
Top Track: “Echo”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)