Stonerpop is a duo that sounds like they should be from somewhere in Europe, but in fact they are based in Louisiana. The group is comprised of Jimmie Maneuva (keyboards, programming and backing vocals) and Maudie Michelle (lead vocals, keyboards) and Physical Business is their debut album. Maneuva also mixed and mastered the album. They are a cottage industry and in that way they have embraced the nature of independent release. They had issued an E.P. in 2016 (Stonerpop) but this marks their album debut.
This is electronic music, melodic, moody and extremely well produced and arranged. They have done their homework and know how to compose songs that sink into your mind and stay there for a long while. Michelle’s vocals are outstanding. They fit the music perfectly and are also very emotional and energetic, depending on the song and the goal of the song.
This is not high energy electronica; it is more reminiscent of the 1980’s electronic/pop sound. And what is good about the album is the variety of sounds. Sure it is electronic, but listen to “Game Over (I Remember)”, a more mellow, almost chill vibe going on, with interesting arrangements and a strong melody.
Lyrically, it is a darker album, with rays of hope. It is a deeply personal album. They do not have any solutions to the world’s problems, because they are still trying to figure their own issues. Personal relationships (Maneuva and Michelle are married) and misunderstanding and loss are themes on this album, and the use of electronic music make the lyrics sound that much more detached from human contact. It is a great balance. The sense of loss throughout the album is felt and this adds to the depth of the lyrics.
They do have some help on this album as well. Fred Kalil (or Porcelain People) co-wrote and plays on the opening track, “Royalty” and the closing track “Snowflake”. Nemo helps on the brilliant “Game Over (I Remember)”. These guests fit right in with the band and add to the overall sound without being distracting.
Where the album is weak is perhaps in not clearly defining their own sound. While it is a great album to listen to, they have not found their own unique, distinct sound yet. I am sure it will come in time, but here they have not clearly cut their own path. They do tend to look to other artists and not copy but one can certainly hear the influences. Where they are the most original is in their one instrumental on the album, “Snowflake”. They incorporate guitars and keyboards and build up an uneasy listening experience. It draws you in and holds you captive. It is a highlight of the album, and perhaps they would do well to record more instrumentals. This is not a slight against Michelle’s singing, quite the contrary (she has a brilliant voice), but it is to say that is where they sound the most at home.
Physical Business is a brilliant debut album. I predict great things for this duo down the road. They are sorting themselves out and will form their own distinct sound. I can hear hints of it throughout the album. I am excited to see what Stonerpop does next. This is a great album.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: STONERPOP – PHYSICAL BUSINESS