Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Nobody Really could be somebody in electro-pop, with some work

April 4, 2011

I love pop songs. Doesn’t matter if the great melody is accompanied by guitar, synths or a choir of saxophones: a good pop song will make me happy. And Nobody Really, the nom de plume of Fred Soligan, is in the business of pop songs. In fact, he even goes so far as to say “I want to make you sing!” toward the end of “Aren’t You Just.”

The middle song of the three-song electro-pop EP “Who Did This?” isn’t as catchy as opener “ALARMS! ALARMS!,” which is itself nowhere near as frantic as the title would make it out to be. The mid-tempo electro-pop song resides in the Owl City vein (albeit with grittier synths). I’ve been to an Owl City concert and love me some Ocean Eyes, so I say that as no knock. It’s just what it is.

Soligan’s voice is way above the level needed to float electro-pop songs, and his vocals and melodies are two of the best assets here. The other asset is potential. That’s a nice way of saying, “Man, these songs could have been awesome if…”

And the follow-up to that common phrase in this case is, “Soligan had better percussive noises and a fuller vision for what these songs could be.” The first bit is a personal quibble: I think that the heavily processed percussion noises Soligan employs clash with the smoother synth sounds that he pulls together for the rest of his songs.

The second complaint is that there’s not a personality that can be extrapolated from these tunes. Granted, there are only three of them, and you can’t have the whole world on one small plate. But these are nice songs that don’t have any distinctive markers. Owl City is a big touchstone, as well as other young songwriters like Never Shout Never! and Mansions, but without the markers of either. I’d like to see Nobody Really transcend his moniker and become someone: find a unique stamp, a subtle twist to the sound, and make it his own. Do you play sax, Fred Soligan? I’m only part kidding.

“Who Did This?” by Nobody Really (there’s the joke full-out; I oblige) is a competent little EP of electro-pop with solid vocals and a lot of room to grow. If you’re a big fan of the genre, these three tracks are all free over at Nobody Really’s Bandcamp. Consider it a “Happy Spring!” present to yourself.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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