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Desert Bloom takes a “Paid Vacation”

In the first guest contribution to For The Culture, local artist Eli Curtsinger breaks down why he loves local band DESERT BLOOM’s new EP: Paid Vacation.

In the first guest contribution to For The Culture, local artist Eli Curtsinger breaks down why he loves local band DESERT BLOOM’s new EP: Paid Vacation.

Let’s talk about Desert Bloom’s new EP, Paid Vacation. I think it’s great! It’s fun, sounds good, breaks the fourth wall occasionally, the lyrics are just deep enough to need a good couple listens to grasp, but they are simple enough to really bring home the picture of what the band is trying to say swiftly.. oh, and writing this I realized a big part of what “paid vacation” is supposed to mean is “quarantine”, right..? Yes, and holy hell it feels good… So is this indie?

The first track plays a few bars of Strokes-esque upbeat guitar and is jokingly interrupted by the sounds of someone turning a car off and asking in a confused manner “so, like…Is this indie?..”

As an Indie performer, this line and sentiment perfectly tickles my fancy (forgive my cliched use of that phrase, because I won’t change it).. ah, yes, the part where you have to help people understand your stuff and categorize it though you would rather them just give it an honest listen. I imagine the singer looking back hesitantly and maybe saying “uh, ya.. kinda..pretty much…” it truly is a good way to start an EP, and immediately demonstrates how many layers are going to be on these tracks. “Ya..” the singer says while the track morphs into a dancey-er version of its former self and plays itself into the next track..

Alright, you’ve got my attention…
The next song starts with sounds of throat clearing.. “alright, alright everybody, I wrote this on a Thursday.. so I think it’s called Thursday…”
At this point I’m still feeling this theme of an indie trope of sorts underlying the songs, of being an indie artist and having to jokingly validate yourself, but also stay sort of humble as to not turn people off… the difference here is that it feels obviously self-aware… The first time I heard this song, the lyrics flew over my head. I heard lyrics like “teleport me back to something sweet” and it was enough to really demonstrate what the band was setting up. A line that hit me right in the gut was the beginning of the second verse when he says “I can’t believe I’m 30 already”.. good God, I thought these were young guys… immediately I start expecting they are writing a song about me (don’t worry, I’m not actually this egotistical).

The point here is that I followed the written lyrics the second or third time and was happily blown away by the depth and how witty/ poetic it was written. It just feels soaked in clever idioms and has apathetic (yet upbeat) imagery that I haven’t seen in such a long time, it feels incredible.
The title song came next, and it starts to really feel like an inhabitable space. It succeeds in tying these loose concepts together into one cohesive mood or feeling. A lot of the mood resembles if The Strokes were infused with Steven’s Universe. It’s fresh, earnest, and compelling sound and social/emotional observation. Having some intense genre-bending moments, the breakdowns resemble Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head (Brite Futures) in the best, and most nostalgic way possible. Again, this album as a whole seems to be quarantine thoughts, but this is the first time I’ve felt inspired by somebody singing about being uninspired.

The genuine nature of the lyrics play nicely with the experimental and frantic flow of the track and transport me back to being a high school kid in Yakima, being amazed at the casual playfulness of Brite Futures. So good.
This review is getting long, so I’m going to wrap this up by saying, this EP is one of the more compelling, if not the most compelling thing I’ve heard this year. It deserves your attention, and to be listened to at least 3 times. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way.

Good job boys…good job!
Go check out Desert Bloom, if you haven’t yet, and expect some great things from them in the future.
-Eli Curtsinger 

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