On his Facebook page, Eirik Hutchinson describes his favourite pastime as “being drunk at petting zoos” and his musical style as “Tabasco Muppet Rock.” Therefore, this singer-songwriter’s social media presence encapsulates perfectly the lighthearted and easygoing vibe of his first solo release, a surf / jangle pop miniLP entitled Something In The Water.
Reminiscent of ‘60s psychedelia and pop rock, Something In The Water features beachy drum beats, reverb driven rhythm guitar, jangly, melodic leads, and soothing retro vocals. The album opens with its title track, whose wacky synth melodies and cheerfully nuanced lyrics set the upbeat and nonchalant tone of this release. At one point during “Something In The Water,” Hutchinson crones about the untroubled days of summer, “Smoking my cares away,” a phrase that makes you question exactly what Hutchinson is smoking and what exactly he wishes to smoke away.
Building on this laid-back atmosphere, the album’s second track, “One Night,” recounts a summer fling over an abundant synth line that gives the song a psychedelic edge. Similarly, the off-kilter “Scooby” describes the pains of a hangover, complete with the sound of a can opening and double layered vocals that are slightly out of unison. It is also on this track that Hutchinson introduces variety in the form of distorted, almost grungy lead guitar. On both “Scooby” and the final track, “Turn Me On,” the level of distortion is sufficient for an interesting juxtaposition of styles without reducing the song’s listenability. However, during “On The Run,” the distortion exceeds that level, clashing with the song’s cheerful, beachy sound.
Amongst these tales of hangovers and summer flings are the occasional lyrical misstep. One significant example of this is found in the lyrics of “Turn Me On,” where Hutchinson refers to a “Fame whore / Just looking for a big score***.” To some, this line could be justified by its consistency with the carefree colloquialism of Something In The Water, but a staunch feminist like myself questions why Hutchinson chose such demeaning and antiquated language.
Throughout this review I have resisted comparing Hutchinson to the stylistically similar Best Coast and Alvvays, as the attention that jangle pop has regained recently seems to be uniquely concentrated on the latter. After listening to Hutchinson’s release, one wonders why those like Best Coast receive all the acclaim. Despite its imperfections, Something In The Water proves an enjoyable, interesting, and engaging first release.
***In the print edition of this review, these lyrics were misquoted. They read “Fame whore / Just looking for a big score” not “Little big whore / Looking for her big score.” This misprint has since been corrected.