Genre: Indie pop, Jangle pop, Indie rock
If you’re driving along a stretch of I-75 from Chattanooga, TN to Atlanta, GA and you see the florescent radiance of day-glo lights pulsing alongside the road, then stop and experience the soft-hued pop luminosity of Superbody. Bathed in a warped synth light, the band absorbs the smooth-lined mainstream pop of the ‘80s and mixes it with the shivering weirdness of artists like Taco and Devo, creating an instantly catchy sound that lingers lovingly on the fringe of your subconscious. But they also draw some darker inspirations from their Southern geography, creating a glowing pop noise spiked with a handful of craggy shadows.
Formed in 2014, in the low mountains of Northwest Georgia, Superbody drew together the binary creativities of Robert "Bobbie" McCurry The 2nd and Caleb Jackson Dills, two musicians whose idea of pop music was heavily informed by the sounds pouring from Top 40 American Music Charts (post-1978). But rather than lay roots in the malleable space of soft rock or the glitz and shimmer of ‘80s pop music, they felt compelled to construct a bridge between all these colorful rhythms, a mash up of influences and experiences that never fell under the spell of any given genre, but felt entirely capable of provoking a pop riot if the circumstances called for it.
According to McCurry, the band was first formed as an “attempt to make a creative pop music project when we desperately wanted to express ourselves through multimedia art of our own.” Sensing no real local analogs to their musical sensibilities, the band relocated to Chattanooga and found a welcome for their skewed pop inclinations. Their goals were simple but necessary, as McCurry explains: “I feel as though I am able to produce something that could possibly make someone’s day more enjoyable and distract from the monotony of everyday life.” The intent is universal, but the result is distinctly insular, a bioluminescent jangle that revels in its liquid grooves and aqueous melodies.
With the release of their debut record, “Hades Land,” in 2014, the band led the way through a blighted Southern history, filled with fire and brimstone, love and eternal damnation – you know, all the things pop music so affectionately embraces. It was pop music that was infiltrated by tangential electronic nuance and bizarre pop pastiche. Idiosyncratic in much the same way as records from Talking Heads or Roxy Music, but with a much more moodily iridescent heartbeat, Superbody tackled the emotions within these songs on their on terms, with each song building a musical gravity which lured you into its orbit before collapsing and pulling you into a cavernous pop-shaped hole in the space-time continuum.
On their sophomore album, “Youth Music,” the band once again dipped their fingers into a collection of swirling synth-soaked atmospheres. But this time they weren’t simply content to dabble in these sounds – they dove headfirst into them, receiving their beatific pop blessings by a rhythmically-charged form of osmosis. But this wasn’t a case of just reinforcing an existing aesthetic; McCurry and Dills were stretching their legs and discovering new ways to distill the amorphous melodic movements born from their manic pop impulses. The songs felt tighter and were charged with an innate rhythmic experimentation, exploring the kind of mercurial mischievousness to which few musicians are given access.
Shortly after the release of “Youth Music,” the band, with added guitarist Blake Callahan, set out to offer their mutated version of pop music to anyone within earshot. They visited stages across the South, bringing a gloriously weird noise to places probably unaccustomed to such an unexpected racket. Recently, however, Dills decided to step away from the band, leaving McCurry as the sole permanent member of Superbody. But their great and odd sound isn’t suddenly coming to an end, as McCurry is continuing to evolve his own ideas of what the band is and how best to approach his ever-widening musical perspective going forward.
Wielding a deadpan voice that plays with our assumptions of tone and rhythmic personality, McCurry invests the work of Superbody with an irreverent but determined spirit. They’re not the product of some simple nostalgia – it’s pop music, formed and cultivated through a love of melody-rich music and the history contained with the choruses of songs like “God Only Knows” and “Call Me Maybe.” The band is descended from pop’s stranger outliers, gifted with a sound so preternaturally convincing and odd that it can’t help but feel genuine. And while the band may be indebted to the vast lineages of pop music, pop music still has a thing or two to learn from Superbody.