Is it just me, or did indie rock get a lot dreamier over the course of this decade? Perhaps blame it on some of the more influential bands of the decade who literally put “dream” in their album titles (ahem, War on Drugs, Beach House), or just blame it on drugs in general. But it seems that more and more bands have embraced a flurry of hazy guitars and half-comprehensible lyrics that harken back to shoegaze, but with less of the inherent noise. Jay Som proved on her last album that she could embrace the noise with stand-out track “1 Billion Dogs”, but here she plunges deeper into some dreamier jams.
On 2017’s Everybody Works, Jay Som’s Melina Duterte hinted at this pulsing dream-pop sound with songs like “Baybee”, while the album seemed a bit more all over the place stylistically. Meanwhile, Anak Ko feels a little more cohesive, and a little more like an album riding the same blissed-out wavelength with the occasional guitar freakout here and there. You could attribute this to Jay Som becoming more of a band on this album than a solo project, but the album is still small and intimate enough to retain the “bedroom pop” label that Jay Som and so many other young indie artists have been burdened with.
I’m not sure that there are quite as many standout tracks overall as Everybody Works, and yet I don’t really mind. Though I would say “Superbike” is a killer single with hooks to spare. But as for the rest of the album, there’s something very satisfying about the way it sets a very specific mood and sticks with it without overstaying its welcome. This could also be because Duterte is much more than just a curator of whistful soundscapes. She’s also an astute songwriter, very good at crafting a line that feels just right, while also having the patience to wait and see where a certain melody takes her. And though Anak Ko might not be a complete revelation, it does leave the listener wanting to wait and see where her career takes her.