reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
Historically speaking, “Bicycle Face” is the name for a health issue supposedly faced by 19th century women who rode bikes. Allegedly, these women-on-the-go would develop permanent expressions of exhaustion — you know, the same sort of expression worn by women who are fed up with society’s patriarchal nonsense. In 2017, Bicycle Face is the name claimed by second-cousins once-removed Ava Glendinning and Theresa Thordarson for their upbeat and mystical pop explorations. Their self-titled EP delves right into their world — complete with a love song for a fictional princess and a sci-fi meandering on a personified computer virus.
There is a funfair-style bounciness to the synths and piano that Bicycle Face use — something that is at once nostalgic and otherworldly. The vocal harmonizing on “Halfway Tree” introduces us to the whimsy that Bicycle Face are capable of, while an adventurous approach to cadence keeps the listener on their toes. This continues on the off-kilter “Spinning Song”, which pairs hovering synths with realizations like “I’ve been sleeping more than I used to / I’ve been sleeping more than I should”. It’s lyrics like these that juxtapose playfully with songs that tend towards the fictional. “Snow White” is an ode to Snow White that features almost operatic vocals and delicate piano glossiness, while “Virus” speaks kind words to a computer and adds layers until it sounds like it could be a central theme to The X-Files, were it directed by Wes Anderson.
Each of the elements that Bicycle Face excel at come together for final track “Lists”, which is a romantic song that returns to straightforward vocals and instrumentation. “Lists” is lower in pitch and lyrically builds on the artists’ own enjoyment of music. A guitar breakdown in the last minute gives the track a summery flair before returning to the catchy hook: “They got the lineup right, tonight you’re on my list”.
Bicycle Face create joyful pop that flies in the face of the “ailment” for which they took their name. The duo resists triviality with poetic lyrics and experimental cadence shifts — these are women who are fighting against ridiculous associations and refuse to be one-word labelled.
Top Track: “Lists”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)