by Lily Lyons
Kim Logan may have named her recent singles series “Pseudoscience,” but there is something undeniably exact in her songwriting. She inhabits the hazy landscape of her sound with a self-assurance that only comes from having a sharp artistic vision. That vision started when she was growing up in the Florida swamps, but was nurtured through her studies at Berklee and Berklee Online. When I heard that Berklee had an alum making ‘psychedelic blues pop,’ I was immediately curious to listen to Kim’s work. After a long day in class, I sat down, turned up the songs in my headphones, and got lost in the murky, rich sounds. “Pseudoscience” consists of two chapters, with each song in both chapters strong enough to stand alone as a single. Here’s a play-by-play of my reactions to each of the singles, in all of their trippy glory.
With the ambience of Lana Del Rey’s “Brooklyn Baby,” the bluesy vibe of Chuck Berry, and the exultant vocal delivery of the B52’s, Kim fuses seemingly disparate influences into a sound that feels deeply original. The simmering, give-no-fucks hook is the strongest part of “Cadillac,” with the production paring down to a tasty, pumping minimalism that underlies the unapologetic lyrics. I was struck by how the guitars served as duet partners for Kim, cheekily riffing counter melodies, and humming in agreement with her statements throughout the song.
“Neighborhood” is decidedly slinky and smoky, with the kind of rattling drums and uptempo groove that would work perfectly for driving on the highway with the windows down. Its gravelly, distorted sound is delicious to the ear. As is its use of panning, with the percussion fills skittering excitedly from left to right in my headphones. I particularly liked how Kim left space between her phrases, so that the lyrics could sink in and the rhythm of the melody could be more seductive. Her twisting of cliches into new, fresh lyrical lines gives the song an admirable pop sensibility: “I don’t like you, baby/ I’m just like you, baby.”
“Better Way” is definitely the most psychedelic song from “Pseudoscience.” Its soundscape shimmers and blurs like an intoxicated vision. Kim often lets her vocals lie sinuously behind the beat, strengthening the woozy, lightheaded feeling that is already present. The processing of her voice during the chorus—and the not overly forward placement of the vocal in the mix—gives the impression of a distant, daydreamy siren call. Lying under the vocal melody with a soupy warmth, the layers of live instruments add a stomping, pulsing energy. The lyrics are specific and visual, whether she is singing about weed or oil lamps.
I got major Beatles and Joni Mitchell vibes from “Western Medication.” Floating and plaintive, it begins and ends with an urban-feeling soundscape that reminded me of wind rushing through an underwater highway tunnel. When the guitar comes in it sounds surprisingly small, as though the listener were right next to it. This intimacy interacts powerfully with the watery percussion, reverb-drenched crashes, and Kim’s pure, echoing vocals. The more electronically manipulated sounds and the paired down instrumentation work well on their own and provide needed contrast to the other songs on “Pseudoscience.”
Kim’s strength is her reimagining of tradition; her songs echo of the past but have a new allure and bite. She embodies the things we love about most rock—the messy beauty of human error that comes with recording live instruments, the prowling vocal confidence, and the lyrics like a shot of whiskey without a chaser. The visceral images of her songwriting and the blurry, gritty production make her akin to a budding female Hozier…albeit with a more all-american and unabashedly hippy vibe. I’m hungry to hear what her next effort will be.
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