If you had stumbled onto this site at the end of last year, you would have likely come across a couple of a posts about Los Angeles-based duo Pom Poms. Comprised of singer/songwriter Marlene and Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Billy Mohler, who is probably best known for his work with Awolnation, Liz Phair, Kelly Clarkson, and Macy Gray, the duo have been quickly thrust into the national spotlight for a sound that owes a debt from classic garage rock and pop such as Connie Francis, Pasty Cline, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, the girl groups of the early 60s and others — but with a subtly modern (and anachronistic) twist that makes the sound seem as though it could have been part of a a Quentin Tarantino‘s Pulp Fiction.
The duo’s debut single “Betty” caught the attention of the blogosphere for a subtly scuzzy, lo-fi-like garage-based guitar rock sound reminiscent of Roy Orbison Buddy Holly and others, and as a result the song possesses a similar urgent and swooning Romanticism; in fact, the heartache that Marlene’s tender vocals evokes is a heartache that we’ve all known at some point — being desperately in love with a lover, who’s not only fickle and thoughtless but someone you know that will inevitably break your heart. Following up on the buzz from “Betty,” the duo released a hushed and spectral alternate version of Betty that featured Marlene’s vocals paired with a sparse arrangement that includes a subtly Bossa Nova guitar line. Sonically, the alternate version channels Patsy Cline — in par — in particular, “Crazy” and “Walkin After Midnight.” And as a result, the alternate version aches with a similar desperate loneliness and longing.
Pom Poms latest single “123,” is a swinging and swaggering 60s-inspired soul song in which the song’s narrator describes playing a cat-and-mouse game with a potential suitor, who the song’s narrator sets upon having as hers and hers only. And as a result, Marlene’s sultry and soulful vocals possesses a come hither and stop wasting my damn time quality. Sonically, the song pairs Marlene’s vocals with period specific staccato bursts of organ, propulsive rhythms and some funky guitar chords; thematically (and to my ears), I’m reminded of several songs including Amy Winehouse‘s “Rehab,” and Nancy Sinatra‘s “These Boots Are Made For Walking,” as the song possesses a similar brassy confidence.
The official video features the full touring band playing in what looks like a seedy club’s basement bathroom as well as bird-like characters roaming about. And although shot in grainy color, the video has a playful air that belies the song’s seductive nature.