The perpetual pop paradox is that we love fresh, snappy, catchy music and yet when it really really works, when it’s super-duper fresh and snappy and catchy, it can spread its joy maybe too widely, maybe even get caught up in a cultural moment, and then the fresh and snappy and catchy gets over-exposed, played to death, and sounds like our worst enemy rather than the best friend it used to be. Think K.T. Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See,” as one example. There are many others; feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.
“Baby Drugs,” from the one-named Nashville-based singer/songwriter Tristen, is exactly this kind of fresh, snappy, catchy, carefree, spirited romp that anyone with a smile in his or her heart would want in a music collection, on a hard drive, in a playlist, coming out of speakers or ear buds, on a bright blue day or a blowy rainy day or anything in between (consult a nearby window to see which applies). Those crisp guitars, that toe-tapping backbeat, those overlapping, descending melody lines in the non-chorus-like chorus. It’s not very complicated, which itself becomes another perpetual pop paradox: a song has to sound simple to stick with you, but if it’s too simple it can seem a waste of mind-space, basically. The trick, I think, is that not everything that sounds simple is actually all that simple. Good pop finds a way to channel sophistication through accessible gestures. Having a voice with a bell-like clarity, as Tristen does, doesn’t hurt. Neither does being two and a half minutes long.
“Baby Drugs” is the backing side of Tristen’s 7-inch single, “Eager For Your Love,” released last month on American Myth Recordings. Her full-length debut, Charlatans at the Gate, is due out in February. MP3 via American Myth.