Dummy – Mono Retriever / Pepsi Vacuum

Los Angeles drone-pop band Dummy has been on a tear since 2020. The experimental-pop group released a collection of diverse EPs six months apart and a phenomenal debut full-length via Chicago’s Trouble In Mind Records titled Mandatory Enjoyment last year. They were a band to get excited about two years ago. They’ve now turned into a band that you must be excited about. Now.

The first time I came across Dummy was hearing Mandatory Enjoyment playing out in the foyer of Columbus record store The Needle Exchange. The blissful, massive soundscapes and catchy experimental pop echoing that I heard on the first side of the cassette were enough to convert me into a believer. So I bought the LP and quickly became a Dummy fan over the past month or so. Shortly after I was convinced, Dummy released two singles via Sub Pop Records called “Mono Retriever” and “Pepsi Vacuum.”

“Mono Retriever” leans more toward the avant-garde side of pop that Dummy really tapped into for their debut. It’s an upbeat and dancey jangle-pop tune that floats and soars, very much being complimented by Emma Maatman’s rhapsodic vocals and lyrics that touch on topics such as the ever-evolving issue of climate change. Upon hearing the start of this tune, you may think that it’s going to settle into the calmer aura of Dummy. Five seconds pass, and it’s apparent that this is very much a incessantly jovial Dummy song. With blistering guitars that create an up-tempo wall of sound that, at times, almost completely drones out the vocals, this song is exactly what Dummy refers to it as on their Bandcamp page: a rager.

With its airy harmonizing, “Pepsi Vacuum” is a much more laid-back tune. Coming in at over five minutes, this track is in the vein of Mandatory Enjoyment’s ambient play with expanding sound to create space. It’s akin to bathing in an ethereal wall of sound, soaked with world music, atmospheric vibes. Gasps and breaths sink into this particular song’s reverberations, which is more so of the slow-building variety. However, “Pepsi Vacuum” does share paralleling views lyrically with “Mono Retriever,” as the song is about connecting deeper with nature. “Pepsi Vacuum” is very much a track to enjoy before bedtime, while “Mono Retriever” is, well, a rager. 

Whatever Dummy has in store next, it’s sure to be packed with experimental-pop sensibilities that push the boundaries of conventional genres while still being madly accessible.

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