Although having finally released their debut album, L.A.’s Superhumanoids have been stirring up buzz since the band’s formation in 2010. The trio is comprised of Cameron Parkins, Sarah Chernoff and Max St. John, originating in L.A.’s Silver Lake indie community, which has produced the likes of Local Natives and Kisses. An auditory amalgamation of its two contemporaries, Superhumanoids has toyed with both the electronic, synth-heavy melodies, as well as psychedelic and rock-ish auditory themes. Having tried various levels of these musical facets on previous EPs, Superhumanoids has finally found the record-worthy balance. As a result, Exhibitionists has veered the band in a direction that it had yet to attempt with creative exploration.
Throughout the album, the songs resonate with the theme of dreamy-surrealism that vary layers of sound and texture that lead the listener throughout what feels to be a nighttime journey. “Black Widow”, saturated with intense, auditory depth of chimes and minimal synth melodies, brings the listener into the album with dream pop reminiscent characteristics. The vulnerable, yet touching of Chernoff lyrics intrigues the listener, deceiving him into believing that the following tracks will be of the same nature. Following “Black Widow”, the lead single “Geri” disarms the listener with its vibrant 80’s dance-pop sounds. Fusing bright synth chords, Chernoff’s syrupy-sweet voice and the Parkins’ darker, gothic vocals, “Geri” captures the essence of Exhibitionists’ dream-like, surreal sounds.
Feeding the surrealism to Exhibitionists is the lyrical content of the album. Exhibitionists focuses on the idea of love and romance, but in a very unorthodox manner. Befitting the modern day concept of love, the lyrics display the cold, cynical nature that love is merely a temporary fabrication, a theory many have come to accept. Most strikingly on the catchy “Geri”, the dual vocalists brush past each other’s ethereal vocals, Parkins positing, “A short reality, displayed for all to see,” against Chernoff crooning, “Time won’t, wait for / Either of us.” Several of the tracks, while undeniably catchy like “Geri”, reflect the band’s dismal philosophy, perceiving that like the album, love might just be a dream, a temporary moment of bliss that leaves one with only the ability to reflect after it ends.
The go-to description of Exhibitionists, especially from the modern day’s list of labels, seems to be dream-pop. While the term proves attractive due to the hazy and soft dream-like state that one may feel sense on an electronic, synth-heavy album, the label does not do the album justice. Alongside the ‘80s dance influence, with catchy chorus lines and Chernoff’s successful use of Madonna-esque vocals on tracks like “So Strange”, the band seems to explore more synth-heavy music. New Wave radiates from several tracks, such as “So Strange” and “Free State”, and the intro to “Canteen” sounding seemingly close to eighties classic “Take On Me”, sans from additional upbeat synth riff. The energetic feel from several of these tracks feeds the concept of a dream, as the familiar upbeat vibes perfectly encase the concept of running wild in one’s dream, letting the imagination do whatever work it desires as one sleeps. “Too Young For Love” surprises the listener with R&B melodies, particularly in the Chernoff’s vocals as she coolly belts on the verses “Your body’s / Not on mine.”
After guiding the listener out of the dream-like state to a peaceful awakening, the band returns to the album beginning’s style. “Do You Feel That”, charged with a driving guitar rhythm and ethereal synth melodies swooping in-and-out. The song fits picturesquely alongside a rising sun, having undergone the magic of a dream-filled slumber throughout the, filled with “thoughts where we disappeared,” to awaken questioning the magical, indescribable time spent asleep.
The band’s roster of various musical influences seems to be an impressive one, but this also proves to be the band’s greatest flaw. Although Exhibitionists is a new step musically in comparison to the band’s previous LPs, the auditory aspect of the music nothing truly new. The band merely incorporates the various styles into isolated songs one after another, unable to interpret the musical styles into something original. Hopefully on the following album, the band will play mad auditory scientists and put the various elements to create something beyond surface-level ‘80s synth-pop.