One has to wonder whether Greta Morgan considered another name change before the release of Springtime Carnivore, the eponymous debut LP from her new musical project. After all, she was once known as Greta Salpeter, the teenaged lead singer for fast-rising indie pop-rockers The Hush Sound, who she joined out of high school in Chicago. When that group disbanded for the first time in 2008, she began using her middle name as a stage moniker while touring with her new band, Gold Motel, symbolically distancing herself from who she was before. All in all, though, the music she produced with Gold Motel wasn’t that far from her indie pop roots. The material on Springtime Carnivore, on the other hand, seems more likely to call for the reinvention of a new name.
This collection of warm, fuzzy indie pop, rock and psychedelic-tinged numbers represents a true new start for Morgan, who recorded the majority of its vocals and instrumentals entirely on her own, releasing tracks anonymously on the internet for months before even revealing that she was the one behind the Springtime Carnivore name. The songs are a break from the neatness and tightly constructed pop sensibilities of both Gold Motel LPs—a looser, more personal and distorted set of sounds with a wider sonic palette.
The first thing any listener who’s familiar with Morgan is going to notice is that her voice takes on a very different character in Springtime Carnivore than in any of her Hush Sound or Gold Motel recordings. Almost all of the songs have a degree of distortion to her vocals, which isn’t necessarily easy to understand. Morgan possesses a warm, strong but youthful-sounding set of pipes that can purr a seductive ballad or twee, two-minute pop jingle with equal ease, and it occasionally feels like the best of her abilities are being hidden behind a fog of studio-generated echoes. Further listening, however, may bring the listener around on how well that distortion and echo fits on songs such as “Collectors” or “Last One to Know.”
Like both Gold Motel records, Springtime Carnivore is somewhat front-loaded, with its most memorable songs primarily found in the album’s opening salvo, and there are some great tracks here. “Name on a Matchbook” is candy-sweet pop with a catchy refrain, highlighting Morgan’s lilting vocals against strong keys and a whistling melody that you’ll subconsciously find yourself repeating for hours afterward. “Sun Went Black” follows immediately but is wildly different in tone, a harder-edged rock song with a driving beat, psychedelic keys and synchronized hand-claps. It’s the album’s stand-out track, infused with a restless energy that would be best accompanied by that boot-kicking dance from Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club.
Springtime Carnivore doesn’t always showcase the full extent of Greta Morgan’s talents, but it gives more than enough reason to be excited for her future projects. The best of these songs transcend her previous work and hint toward new vistas that she’s clearly hoping to explore, and we’ll happily look in on her journey.