mon 06/07/2020

CD: Pumarosa - Devastation | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Pumarosa - Devastation

CD: Pumarosa - Devastation

London trio get personal on weird and wonderful second album

Pumarosa's Devastation: skittish drums, claustrophobic melodies and haunted vocals

Pumarosa picked the perfect time of year to launch their second album into the world: its skittish drums, claustrophobic melodies and haunted vocals are the perfect soundtrack to witching season. But the horrors that inspired Devastation are far more personal: frontwoman Isabel Muñoz-Newsome was diagnosed with cervical cancer the week the band’s 2017 debut was released, with the band playing Glastonbury mere weeks after her surgery.

With that back story in mind, you’d be forgiven for thinking tracks like “Fall Apart”, “Lose Control” and “Devastation” are primed to tell a particular story - but Muñoz-Newsome, a fascinating narrator, flips those tropes. The opening track and lead single is less about falling apart than trying to find a safe enough space to be vulnerable: “in pieces you are what you need to be,” she sings, her voice near-expressionless, over a skittering bass line that owes no small debt to The Prodigy. “Lose Control” has at its centre the oxymoron of choice and an infectious hook; a line about making deliberate mistakes “just to know that I’m breathing” hitting close to the bone.

Recorded in Los Angeles with alterna-pop super-producer John Congleton, the album welcomes the witching hour with a host of weird and wonderful flourishes: the feedback looped satanic choir that elevates mid-tempo plodder “I See You”; the frenetic, key-changing synths slicing through Muñoz-Newsome’s feather-light vocals on “I Can Change”; the squalling, hysterical strings that accompany the orgiastic “I Am Lost”. But while there is heaviness here - “Factory”, at the album’s mid-point, practically implodes under its own weight - the title track sounds like coming back to life. Both Muñoz-Newsome’s voice and the irresistible melody soar as she demands to be thrown a lifeline, and by the time the song goes full-on chaotic marching band it’s clear that from destruction can emerge something new.

Below: hear "Fall Apart" by Pumarosa

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