Live Concert Photography: Pollens at Sunnyvale 6/8/18
Last month, I wrote about Pollens, a New York-based art pop/dance pop duo that can trace its origins to when its members, Jeff and Elizabeth met while working on a short, anachronistic opera-like project. Shortly after, they worked on a song cycle focused on the specifics of being human, social anxiety and social media — i.e. receiving Facebook birthday reminders from dead people, and so on. Since their formation they’ve released two EPs’ 83 and Mister Manufacture, and as the duo explains in press notes, the material is about being around people, checking your phone, being high in the city, Googling conspiracies and conspiracy theories and making summer mistakes among other things; but from the perspective of newcomers to New York, who are equally in awe of their surroundings, terrified and absolutely confused by — well, everything around them.
Now, as you may recall, their latest single “$$$_PSA” was centered around layers of percussion, arpeggiated synths, electronic noise, chopped up samples, bright and ethereal melodies and shouted non-sequiturs in what may be one of the more unique and oddest songs I’ve come across this year. Unsurprisingly, the song will draw comparisons to The B52s, DEVO, Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem, but with a neurotic energy that feels as though its creators were bouncing off the wall. As the duo’s Jeff Aaron Bryant admits, “Our songs aren’t about anything . . . that’s a promise. For this one, ‘$$$_PSA, we’ve got a few flavors of moneyed people — their entitlement, the space they’re taking up on the train, their shoes and conversations, and every so often, we hear someone else making an announcement. Really, that’s it . . .”
When asked to explain more about the song, Bryant instead talks about his obsession with announcements. “I love announcements- anything anyone says over an intercom or public address system. I love how announcements are always inescapably loud or barely audible. And I love how announcements have their own music that’s specific to the information that’s being announced- like on an airplane, no one ever says “be careful opening the overhead bins” they always say “do use caution while opening the overhead storage compartments”. The word ‘Do’ is extra and weird sounding but always pitched higher than the rest of the sentence even though ‘caution’ is the important part. And whatever, an announcement is just some regular person reading from a script, but for a few moments, the microphone literally elevates their voice and they join with the authority, the public interest, the rules and safety… sales become sales events, customers become following guests, clerks become the next available customer service representative.”