An EP can be a little tricky. Is it filled with scraps that didn’t have a place on an album but still seemed worthy of the light of day? Maybe its goal is to whet listeners’ appetites in between LPs, showcase the lead single off an upcoming release or provide alternate versions of past songs. But there’s another suit an EP can wear. It can be the hinge of stylistic change.
On Oversaturated, the new EP from Brooklyn’s Rubblebucket, something sounds different than 2011’s Omega La La. Don’t worry: Kalmia Traver still carries a tune and whistles like a songbird, the bass still thumps along infectiously and the horns still blare majestically. But here, things seem a little more controlled and synth-driven than on its incredibly upbeat predecessor. Maybe this falls more so on the change of producers, with Bear Creek Studios’ Ryan Hadlock taking a turn this time around.
“Focus (Oversaturated)” begins with Traver crooning while synth arpeggios ring out underneath. Gradually, it builds—adding handclaps, a bass line and eventually those horns. You want something big to happen, and sure enough it does, as everything comes crashing together before quickly fading out, leaving a desire for more. Next, “The Flower Man” grooves along for five minutes in a reggae haze of sound. It’s catchy enough to warrant falling into its trance.
“Oooh Wa” sounds straight out of an ‘80s movie and adds a more energetic flair to the collection, but “Pain From Love” is truly the gem here (which they must have known, since the EP closes with a reprise of it). Every bit of it is catchy and will have you coming back to listen to it over and over again. For anyone who doubted Rubblebucket’s longevity, look no further. And with a line like “You can’t walk on water / Even if you try / But I still think you’re baller / Anyway-ay-ay-ay-ay,” you’ll be singing along in no time.
Rubblebucket has delivered five songs that remind us why we declared the group to be the Best of What’s Next: they can write catchy, compelling music that will make anyone with a pulse dance. With a slight departure from Omega La La, it will be interesting to see where they go next.