Tommy Strauser - "Hypernormal" Stream

No Kansas City releases this year are quite as authentic as Tommy Strauser's new debut album. "Hypernormal" is a release overflowing with youthful ambition, curiosity, and ebullience. Strauser's knack for writing memorable melodies seems to be second nature and his canny ear for instrumentation takes each song the extra mile.

A social media post written by Strauser about the album notes that a couple friends assisted him in crafting the production, but its not hard to imagine Strauser strumming away in his bedroom, tracking out demos on a laptop that quits on him just as he begins to make some progress.

"The Way" is emblematic; a summary of a majority of the themes on "Hypernormal." Strauser is found pondering the tribulations of being a young musician -- or a young person in general -- and the anxiety held in not knowing what comes next. Despite this, by the end of the track, the faint synths that it began with are soaring and his vocals are astoundingly confident.

That instrumentation that Strauser picks out so keenly is part of what makes these songs so special. The songs are mostly performed on an electric guitar over keyboard tracks and dry, simplistic electronic drums. Influences from bedroom pop purveyors like Spencer Radcliffe and Britpop giants like Oasis seem to mingle freely. Several songs also include bits and pieces of electronic manipulation that tie everything together and give them a near-trip-hop vibe.

"Hypernormal" closes with a very literal farewell track. "Goodbye" is a slow-stomping, heart-crushing breakup song that can hypnotize a listener into countless listens in one sitting. And that's the sign of a great songwriter, isn't it?

Stream and buy "Hypernormal" below via Bandcamp.

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