Published Jun 17, 2020Courtney Garvin plays guitar in Vancouver indie-pop trio the Courtneys, and she's taking a turn as lead vocalist for her new project Gum Country. Now based in Los Angeles and performing as a duo alongside drummer/keyboardist Connor Mayer, Gum Country specialize in harsh, fuzzy twee-pop — which is to say, they sound quite similar to the Courtneys.
The 12 songs that make up Somewhere could pass for Courtneys tracks — even Garvin's vocal delivery recalls that of Courtneys singer Jen Twynn Payne, as she delivers sugar rush melodies with a droopy-eyed deadpan. Minus the synths that pepper Somewhere's instrumental passages, this sounds like a continuation of the dreamy Flying Nun-inspired haze of 2016's The Courtneys II.
Standout single "Tennis (I Feel OK)" features a buzzing monophonic synth that meanders sweetly amidst the usual fuzzy guitars, while Garvin sings compellingly direct lyrics about her love of tennis. This is typical of Gum Country's songs, many of which are so straightforward and specific that they're profound in a very humble sort of way: the bubblegum bop "I Don't Stay Up" tells of a quiet life full of lengthy sleeps and saying "maybe" to party invitations, and you probably don't need me to explain what "Talking to My Plants" is about.
Even the darker songs lose their drama once you peel back the layers: the horror-themed "It Lives, It Breeds, It Feeds" is full of monstrous imagery, but it's actually about an insect (possibly a mosquito); "Whoa Oh" presents as a breakup lament, but upon closer examination, it seems to be about a roommate moving out.
Taken as standalone stories, they're almost brazenly mundane; considered as a whole, Somewhere paints a picture of the small pleasantries and anxieties of everyday life. (Kingfisher Bluez)