Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Unkinder (A Tougher Love)” by Thumpers from the forthcoming 2014 album Galore on Sub Pop.
Led by childhood friends Marcus Pepperell and John Hamson Jr., London’s Thumpers’ ebullient bedroom pop has evolved from a bedroom project to an openly collaborative, relatively large-scale group while retaining its ecstatic, poptimistic approach to indie pop music. Formed in late 2011 while Hamson was touring as the bassist for Friendly Fires, the duo’s songs were initially constructed via email, which was likely the inspiration for the duo’s laptop-maximalism aesthetic (think Manners-era Passion Pit), a musical trait that the duo still use to the fullest. Both members are multi-instrumentalists, and with frequent gang vocal contributions from Pepperell’s sisters, the duo were more than able to craft their own small-scale anthems, the first of which, “Sound of Screams”, appeared in April 2012. Since then, they’ve moved onto bigger gigs (they supported CHVRCHES and Everything Everything last year) and bigger recordings, resulting in Galore, the pair’s debut album. It takes a lot – a lot – of nerve to give your album the same title as one of alternative rock’s greatest singles compilations, but after a few spins of “Unkinder (A Tougher Love)”, it’s easy to see that Thumpers are aiming for Cure-style (read: equal parts emotion and anthem) pop greatness and aptly hitting their target. Built around pounding percussion, Pepperell’s Andy Bell-meets-Morrissey vocals weave themselves around pulsating synths, warm gang vocals, and, brilliantly, more drums, leading to a rousing final chorus that feels every bit earned. Immediate, hook-filled, and perfectly paced, “Unkinder (A Tougher Love)” is a fantastic opening statement that shows a band bursting with potential, and quite possibly the first track on their future Standing on a Beach.
Thumpers will embark on a tour in support of Galore beginning in March, including a stop in Seattle opening for Yellow Ostrich at Barboza on March 22. Get tickets and more info on that 21+ show here, keep up with the band on their website and Facebook, and watch the video for “Unkinder (A Tougher Love)” below.