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Claire Rousay & More Eaze
Never Stop Texting Me Miloš Hroch , February 7th, 2022 08:42

Texas-based power duo pitched up their voices, added ear-catching guitar melodies, and invented a hyperpop emo band, finds Miloš Hroch. 

Past years’ events crack-opened the portal to nostalgia. It was an opportunity for artists to re-examine the creative process and the moments that made them who they are. Experimental electronic producers stretched their legs and removed dust from guitar sounds. In 2020, PC Music founder A.G. Cook flirted with guitars on his 7G album and served reinterpretations of teenage guitar heroes such Blur, Smashing Pumpkins, or Strokes, resulting in grungy hyperpop. 

The same year Oneohtrix Point Never dropped Magic, a record where Daniel Lopatin reimagined childhood memories of listening to Boston soft rock station Magic 106.7. For his appearance at Jimmy Fallon’s, he gathered a 1980s-like teenage dream band he never had and produced some synthetically mutated chords on the guitar in prime time. Partly escapism, some might say, but the results did not end in numbing nostalgia, but led to playful and unexpected moments. 

On their record Never Stop Texting Me, Texas-based experimental musicians Claire Rousay and More Eaze (Mari Maurice) follow a similar strain. This time, the frequent collaborators invented the hyperpop emo band they never had but should definitely continue to have. In interviews, Rousay often mentions her love for karaoke-ready Avril Lavigne and emo bands like Taking Back Sunday. Together with Maurice, they named their previous album if I don’t let myself be happy now, then when? after a Jimmy Eat World lyrics and they share a mutual love for mall punks Third Eye Blind, with a post-grungy vibe and clean vocals. Never Stop Texting Me is wallpapered with such guilty pleasures, even if categories like these don’t exist anymore.

Rousay and Maurice deliver a new album of power ballads with blissful saccharine sing-alongs, autotune-heavy vocals, poppy guitar melodies with nods to Midwest emo and emo rap, and PC-Music-esque euphoric synth lines that drive their sound into a series of bewildering hyperpop twists. At first, it seems like a radical detour from what they usually do. Rousay’s style has evolved from percussion-led improvisations to sound collages with field recordings. Maurice combines computer music and drone ambient with occasional trips to the edges of the eccentric digital underground. But the second listen makes sense as a culmination of what’s already been there. Trance-like arpeggios from More Eaze’s record Mari on Orange Milk or slowed-down auto-tuned vocals on their previous collaborative record Afternoon Whine.

The ten tracks on Never Stop Texting Me have been co-produced in a manner recalling the way best friends finish each other’s sentences. Lyrics about crushes, breakups, and casual slacker afternoons feel like lines from chat windows and snatches of voice messages. Never Stop Texting Me is an ode to the smartphone as an extension of the human body (as hinted at by the cyberpunk cover by Orange Milk head, Seth Graham). 

A certain hyperpop sensitivity – with its emotional exaggeration and sponge-like attitude – is all over the album and closes the circle. It’s surprising how hyperpop’s pompous maximalism clicks with the ‘emo ambient’ minimalism of Claire Rousay and More Eaze’s work to date. As microgenres are being born and forgotten quicker than the digital dust settles, and hyperpop is defined through its ephemerality, Never Stop Texting Me stands out from the endless stream. It further shows the versatility of both artists. Their need to experiment, to go against the listeners’ expectations and most importantly, to have fun.