Review: Pumarosa – EP (2016) by Pumarosa

There are few releases from 2016 that I have loved more than Pumarosa’s debut EP. Though only made up of four tracks, it really packs a punch. I talked about how much I like the band a few weeks ago when I reviewed their show at The Louisiana in Bristol, but I feel like it’s worth talking about their first non-single release as well…

The EP doesn’t do much more than collect together all of the band’s current singles (plus a B-side), but the songs are good enough that it doesn’t really matter. ‘Priestess’ for example, the opener, is about as good as debut singles get. It’s a psychedelic-tinged jam that manages to go on for eight minutes without getting even the slightest bit boring. That’s mainly thanks to Isabel Munoz-Newsome’s vocals, which are just completely hypnotic. Her chanting delivery of the song’s chorus (‘Priestess, you dance, you dance, you dance’) is just unlike anything else. The instrumentation, as busy as it is at times, is also great – with the band swapping in and out instruments to keep things interesting.

Following up ‘Priestess’ is ‘Honey’. This one is a more straight-forward rock tune with a political edge, but still carries the band’s unique vibe. ‘Honey’ doesn’t really get going until it reaches its chorus, where Munoz-Newsome’s delivery really sells the track (‘Events comes and go / Like waves of a fever). If the vocals on the first track sounded like a chanting shaman, here they come across as haunting. The song overall carries a very melancholy vibe and acts as a strong contrast to the opener.

Despite its intense drumroll of an opening, ‘Cecile’ is a pretty laid back track. It feels really chilled and spaced out, with the instrumentation and vocals being pretty sparse. Other than Munoz-Newsome’s vocals, there isn’t much more to the track than a simple drumbeat and some sparse synth notes. Just like ‘Priestess’, the vocals really make this track (not that the instruments aren’t fantastic – because they are, especially the sax at the end). There’s no other way to describe her delivery on this track than just straight-up sexy. (On the line, ‘I wanna lay your ass’, especially). The song is about sex, I suppose.

The EP closes out with a demo track, ‘Sinking Heart’ – the B-side to ‘Honey’. While it’s definitely the weakest track on the album, it’s still fantastic. It has an even more mellow vibe than ‘Cecile’, and the instrumentation has a stripped back feel to it. The song works well as a closer, with it really winding the EP down.

Though Pumarosa only comes in at about 20 minutes, the band really packs a lot into that time. I’d lying if I said it didn’t make me incredibly excited for their debut album next year. Man, it’s gonna be good.

Essential Songs: ‘Priestess’, ‘Honey’, ‘Cecile’.

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