Baum Jr., who has a background in rock, describes his newly invented genre as ‘Next-Gen 8-bit’, calling upon influence from film scores and game soundtracks of the 1980’s. Baum Jr.’s debuts a double-sided single set for release on Friday 28th October. ‘When I Grow Up’ is a cover of a Garbage song, the popular alternative rock outfit founded in the mid 90’s. Baum Jr.’s rendition of the track boasts some restructuring and sonic shifts. The other track, ‘Heroes’, is a completely original effort that compiles the sonic intricacies of its predecessor in a fresh new way.
These last few years have been a list of synth disappointments. I wanted to love the M83 album. I didn’t. I wanted the Empire of the Sun effort to be every bit as defining as their first. It wasn’t. I’m starting to notice a pattern wherein bands driven by electronic and synthesized sounds tend to hit a sophomore slump a lot harder than most bands. With that in mind, it’s no surprised that this synth gem is a debut.
But in seriousness, Baum Jr. is so, so good. He can take a good song and figure out exactly what delicate 30-second bit of finesse he needs to add to make it addictive – you go back and listen again for those 30 seconds, even if you don’t realize that’s why you’re doing it.
Accessible and fun yet with an underlying aggression and angst paired with strong beats and a full bodied vocal, Baum Jr. has created a double-sided retro-flavored single that many established Electronic/Pop stars don’t seem to be capable of making. He can casually get away with quite dark lyrics at times and still have the music sound very danceable and light given his clear tone.
Musically, ‘When I Grow Up’ breaks new ground, with its unusual video game sonics – which Baum Jr. calls ‘Next-Gen 8-bit’ – giving the song a whole new take, and quite different from the original. However as good as the track is – in its conception, execution and production – I was totally attracted to the original track, ‘Heroes’, which I found even more impressive, if not wholly the better song of the two, by miles!
‘Heroes’, is filled with an electrifying atmosphere, a soaring vocal, a slamming drumbeat and a beautifully layered musical arrangement that is just stunningly attractive. I know Baum Jr. refers to this release as a double-A side.
My personal opinion is that ‘Heroes’ is decidedly the A side of this combination. With all due respect to Garbage, but many of their songs depended heavily on the performances of Shirley Manson to uncover their greatness.
No doubt Baum Jr. has done a marvelous re-imagining of “When I Grow Up”. I just think ‘Heroes’ is the far better of the two songs – which now leaves me in anticipation of an album release filled with originals. Just to see how far Baum Jr. can take his compositional talents, seeing that he doesn’t need to cover anybody with the skillset he has at hand!