Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
There’s an intriguing quality to the reflective and often eccentric scope of experimental bedroom pop. It’s a romance perhaps born from the mythology-making years that Brian Wilson spent sequestered in his literal bedroom, or the similar (rumoured) window-blocking, beard-growing isolation of this generation’s very own once-genius strangeboy Rivers Cuomo. While not exactly taking a page out of the lush, inextricable layers of the classic Beach Boys songbook (aside from some impeccable harmonies), Guelph’s weirdo troubadour Gregory Pepper assembled his band of Problems to help him bring his self-realized musical smorgasbord to light on With Trumpets Flaring, available now through Fake Four Records.
With Trumpets Flaring is clearly and unconventionally influenced by sounds from multiple sources that include—aside from the obvious sweet pop classics—electro (“Drop the Plot”) and prog (“One Man Show”). Loosely conceptually minded and very, very clever, Pepper shares a vision and aesthetic with Seattle’s lo-fi Say Hi (formerly Say Hi to Your Mom) mastermind Eric Elbogen or fellow Guelphian LUM (née Liam Sanagan), using his genre-melding instrumentation and arrangements to snarkily delve into the hilarity of everyday personal mundanities and tragedies. At times the musical ADD runs an inherent risk of being unfocused or, even worse, annoying, but the understated mini pop-opera’s calculated cohesiveness and brevity (the songs rarely hit, let alone exceed, three minutes, which means Pepper is redeemably aware of the shelf life of his cutesy-ness) will hopefully help save this project from MySpace obscurity.
When Pepper more than likely takes a different approach with his next record, if it has more of the gorgeous, almost haunting sparsity of “Built A Boat” or the impressive focus and complexity—not to mention accessibility—of “It Must Be True” (embedded under the above cover image for your listening pleasure) fading into obscurity won’t be of concern. If people still made mixed tapes, any song from With Trumpets Flaring would be the perfect mood-switching, attention-grabbing track; luckily, it’s more than a disposable novelty one-off.