Let’s get this out of the way first – The Morning Benders changed their name, and have been getting a lot of flak for it. Well, it turns out the catalyst behind it was that “bender” is a derogatory term used in the UK, and many in the LGBT community took issue while they were overseas, so we are sympathetic. The merits of POP ETC are not really for us to debate, and they already addressed it with the last remaining tweet on the former Morning Benders Twitter account – “I once went off on a morning bender so bad that I changed my band name to something stupid.” So that’s that.
Now for the fun stuff. I liked Big Echo, but sometimes Chris Chu’s elastic vocals against inoffensive melodies would be a bit too pure, like water that had been sent through the Brita filter a few too many times, losing the natural quality of itself. But in the right context, he expresses a vulnerability without an overbearing weakness. They’re still making groovy, classic pop like a displaced 50s barbershop quartet, but have taken more of an electronic turn, and it’s a backdrop against which Chu’s clean delivery actually comes through more effectively.
While you are away, my heart comes undone/ Slowly unravels in a ball of yarn/ The devil collects it, with a grin/ Our love, in a ball of yarn/ He’ll never return it, he’ll never return it
Bjork’s sweeping melody, with its church organ, cathedral build to explosive vocals from her 1997 album Homogenic is understandably what Thom Yorke calls his favorite song ever. Though they can’t take credit for those damn lyrics, Chu takes a decidedly more modest approach that attacks you with tiny jabs to the chest, whose Autotuned vocals conjure the emptiness in phantom images of a lover just lost.
Check out “Unravel” along with “Halfway to Heaven” and the video for Bjork’s original below, and head over to the POP ETC site to grab the rest of the free mixtape.