Wearing your heart on your sleeve is a detriment to some but in the case of Mia Berrin and her band Pom Pom Squad, her willingness to be emotionally honest becomes a real treat for us all on their debut EP Ow. Pom Pom Squad have been a staple in the Brooklyn DIY scene for awhile but now hopefully with the release of Ow, set to drop September 6th, the band will find themselves playing to more and more people outside where they are from.
Taking their cues from bands like Rilo Kiley, and more contemporarily, Snail Mail and Soccer Mommy, Pom Pom Squad’s transparent emotionality will proceed to quietly destroy you over the running time of Ow. Vocalist Mia Berrin is able to take her range from a whisper to a yelp in the same phrase, while the backing band Mari Alé Figeman, Shelby Keller and Ethan Sass seem to be able to channel the best of the 90’s College Rock scene but the best part about Ow are its six beautifully written songs.
Kicking off with “Ow Intro”and its pensive, discordant arpeggiated guitar part supporting Berrin’s strong, subtly emotive vocals. When the violin kicks in and Berrin flatly sings, “They all say they want what’s best for me but they never try to be the best for me”, you’ll swear you’ve stumbled onto an unearthed Carrissa’s Wierd song. “Heavy Heavy” kicks things up a bit with the band joining Berrin. When they kick in with the languid groove just bubbling with squeals of feedback reminiscent of 90s alt darlings Belly or contemporary greats Bully, you’ll be wondering why you haven’t heard this band before now. Berrin has this really cool ability to be seemingly detached from the proceedings without sacrificing her performance. You’ll hear this on the verses of “Honeysuckle” while the band builds up and down around her. “Cherry Blossoms” keeps that Carissa’s Wierd atmosphere going and will absolutely break your heart. “Again” expands the albums sonic palette and Berrin reaches some peak honesty when she sings in the songs chorus “You thought this wouldn’t happen again” it’s like you’re reliving through all of the pain she’s singing about. By time the album closes with instrumental “Owtro” you should already be cueing it up to start again.
There’s a lot with “Ow” and Pom Pom Squad that looks to the past, shades of that dog float in and out of each song, but the band keeps everything very relevant in terms of the sonic care they’ve taken with the album and the raw honesty on display. Mia Berrin is definitely a talent to watch and here’s hoping that we get to hear more from Pom Pom Squad in the future.
review by Adam Fink