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PSAPP - What Makes Us Glow (Review)

PSAPP, What Makes Us Glow

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

CALL it quirk pop, art-pop or just hugely creative pop but PSAPP know how to deliver a killer tune that’s both high on originality and widespread appeal.

They remain, of course, best known for their theme to long-running medical drama Grey’s Anatomy (aka Cosy In The Rocket). But they’ve continually been charming those willing to listen since then.

What Makes Us Glow is their fourth album and, as its name suggests, it’s designed to make you glow. Indeed, it might.

Scored with home built instruments, the album is bursting with swampy drones of recorded ambience and plenty of raw sounds.

Psapp relish in combining unusual musical elements, this record includes Galia’s rhythmic snores, boxes of writhing mealworms, their homemade boneaphone – a marimb made from bones – and the groans of milk-laden cows alongside the more standard instruments: piano, violin, oud and organs.

Lyrically it is an exercise in emotional stocktaking. These are songs of attachment, detachment and the slow realisation of what is essential.

Almost predictably, it’s idiosyncratic nature does give rise to moments that are sure to be an acquired taste and others that just won’t taste good at all. But in the main, this is a warm, infectious and resolutely unique collection of songs that should only enhance PSAPP’s reputation still further.

Highlights include Your Hot Knife, which embodies a grittier sound, a rollicking chorus and some exquisite melodies (including a bicycle bell), Wet Salt, which has one of the most urgent electronic undercurrents and a toe-tapping percussion (not to mention a swoonsome set of vocals), Seven, which almost feels like a soul-jazz-swing offering (albeit relayed in typically PSAPP style), and In The Black, which adopts an almost flamenco style of breeze pop.

The Well And The Wall, meanwhile, adopts a moodier sensibility with a striking central melody and a telling chorus (“I’ve found a bottomless well”). Admittedly, the end gets a little weird but that, strangely, only adds to its appeal (and edge). In And Out, meanwhile, brings the album to a classy close, with a chilled central melody augmenting some wonderful layering and a seductive vocal that implores the listener to “tell me something I don’t know”.

Of the moments that sometimes come across as too quirky, title track What Makes Us Glow has some very fractured melodic structures that prevent easy enjoyment, while Everything Belongs To The Sun has a rapid percussion that feels more aggressive than normal. But even then, there’s generally something to like or be intrigued by.

Overall, therefore, What Makes Us Glow is another triumph for arim Clasmann and Galia Durant – and long may their particular brand of music making continue!

Download picks: Your Hot Knife, The Well And The Wall, Wet Salt, In And Out, In The Black, Bone Marrow

Watch the video for Everything Belongs to the Sun

Watch Your Hot Knife live

Watch Seven life:

Track listing:

  1. Life Hums
  2. Wet Salt
  3. The Cruel, the Kind and the Bad
  4. Seven
  5. That’s the Spirit
  6. In the Black
  7. Everything Belongs to the Sun
  8. Bone Marrow
  9. Your Hot Knife
  10. The Well and the Wall
  11. What Makes Us Glow
  12. In and Out