Vancouver does not deserve local pop-duo Rococode. For, our city has an abusive relationship with pop music. Local scenes often look down on it, as if pop is a lesser genre of music not worthy of our noise festivals and college radio stations. Yet when we think no one is listening, we turn on Beyoncé and Taylor Swift, and crank the volume. Pop music is always there for us when we need it, whether it’s when we spend too long thinking about the ills of the world or when we finally overcome feeling guilty about our musical pleasures.
In Vancouver, we have some of the best pop musicians in the country, creating immaculate hits that will ease the pain of any heart break or existential crisis, all while showing casing extraordinary musical skill. Rococode’s new EP Young Ones is a perfect example of the addictive hooks and seamless production that we have come to expect from Vancouver’s own Laura Smith and Andrew Braun. This EP’s dark, synth pop dreamscape acknowledges the heavy dread that has become synonymous with the year 2017, while simultaneously lifting the listener out of the gloom with unexpected melodies that float over the tracks with ease.
Crafting music that encapsulates both the dark and the angelic hinges on refinement and talent. Smith’s rhythmic runs in “Can’t Get Enough,” for example, are expertly written, and will send a shiver down the spine of an unsuspecting listener. In the last track, Smith sings “Wake me up, I thought that it’d be over / But dreams can’t make me sober.” This imagery brings to mind a generation waking up on November 9, 2016. All that darkness is there, amongst the synths and the drum machines and the show-stopping melodies. Yet, the duo also provides glimpses of light, as they coo, dove-like, on the vocal hook to “A Love That You Will Never Know.”
Rococode’s music is carefully crafted by two veteran musicians who know what the hell they are doing. They further prove that pop can encapsulate complexity, depth and diversity. And while it may be easy to disregard music for its melodic, hook based sensibilities, it’s time for Vancouver to stop judging musicians by genre and, instead, finally listen.