Sounds Like: Listening to a lucid dream
For Fans of: Mount Eerie, Asobi Seksu, Grouper
Why You Should Pay Attention: The side project of Little Big League leader Michelle Zauner began as an exercise in discipline when, during the summer of 2013, she set out to record one song a day during the entirety of June. The project soon evolved into an act of survival when Zauner put her life on Philadelphia on hold and moved to Oregon to care for her mother, who had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She passed away six months later. In the ensuing months Zauner poured her grief (and several of those modified song-a-day recordings) into what would become a stunning debut, Psychopomp. Its taut, gossamer pop songs leave behind any trace of the emo-tinged indie rock Zauner played in her past life, while still giving her a chance to flex her talents as a deft and emotive songwriter. This summer, she and her three-piece live band will open for Mitski.
She Says: "In this book I was reading by Carl Jung, there was a caption talking about [the word] 'psychopomp,'" Zauner says of the album's title. "I really liked it because it sounded like the word 'psychotic pop,' and I think that's what my record sounds like sometimes. In mythology it's supposed to be an usher of a spirit to the afterlife, specifically a guide that has no judgment. In a lot of ways, when I was living with my parents, it really felt like that was my role throughout that whole process. I wasn't there to judge my mom when she decided she only wanted to do two chemotherapy treatments. I was just there to support her and help her through her time, and in some ways I feel like I was there to help her die. In Jungian psychology [the psychopomp] is also supposed to be this mediator [between] the conscious and unconscious. I was having a lot of these dreams about my mother, and it brought me some comfort that I could continue to connect with her."
Hear for Yourself: "Everybody Wants to Love You" is stomping power pop with Zauner's swelling voice twinkling alongside Radiator Hospital's Sam Cook-Parrott guesting on backing vocals. Paula Mejia