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The majority of the popular music seems to follow a trend of taking itself quite seriously (mostly in the thematic content that it presents), even though half of the time, there’s not much of a precedent for anyone to take a lot of artists too seriously. Acts like Drake, Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, and One Direction have dominated the airwaves for a long time. And that’s fine, I’m not saying their music is bad or worth any less than anyone else’s music, but generally these artists take themselves quite seriously, and expect us, as listeners, to follow suit.
Most of the time there’s no reason for anyone to take the Bieb’s lyrics seriously at all; the same goes for Drake and One Direction, and especially The Weeknd. Most of their material is riddled with vague blanket statements seemingly crafted so that the greatest possible number of listeners can identify with them. And then we’re asked to take these artists seriously at face value.
ROMP’s Departure From Venus, on the other hand, is far enough removed from traditional pop aesthetics to land it in the minefield that lies between pop and punk. I’d say it’s niche but it’s not even that — it’s a throwback to the pop-punk of the mid-2000s.
And the thing is, most of the content on DFV is so intensely angst-ridden, so adolescent in its view and presentation of the world, that at first it’s impossible to take any of it seriously; it’s too angsty. Madison Klarer’s bittersweet vocals endlessly revel in an adolescent dissatisfaction with everything (“Everyone says it’ll get better, but I don’t feel any better, liars liars liars liars,” she sings in the title track) while at the same time celebrating and yearning for the simplicity of hanging out in her bedroom with what’s presumably her boyfriend (or just a friend — fuck boyfriends, they complicate things). It seems to beautifully encapsulate teenage confusion and angst in such a simple way: sometimes unsure, sometimes humble, sometimes combative, selling us on its authenticity.
Structurally, the tracks on the record work well thanks to their length, which on average comes out to two-and-a-half minutes. That said, one of the best tracks on the record, “Get Off the Scale,” is just barely a minute long. Fuzzy guitars and screams abound, but not for so long so as to grate on the listener before giving way to a bittersweet melody that wraps the track up.
“Avoiding Boys” is the track that’s most representative of the material found on Departure from Venus. Partly escapism (“Leaving my parents’ house, turning my phone off, laying on the driveway, this is the only way”) and partly outright aggression thanks to a chorus that repeats “I don’t care what you might say, this is going to be a great fucking day.”
Does DFM present us with anything that’s clearly new? No, not really. But I think mostly because, in varying degrees, everyone’s felt at one point or another the existential angst and apathy that comes hand in hand with being young and ever so slightly disillusioned — the record is infinitely entertaining. ROMP has clued in to something that the majority of musicians today seem to have overlooked: simple, (that is to say, straightforward) is (almost) always good, especially if you’ve got charisma. And on Departure From Venus, ROMP has it in spades.