Superorganism feels like a band that couldn’t have existed until now. The London-based art collective sprouted when Orono Noguchi—a teenage singer who was born in Japan but went to high school in Maine—befriended a New Zealand pop-rock quartet called The Eversons. In early 2017, the band demoed a song, sent it to Orono and invited her to add vocals. The result became Superorganism’s first single, “Something For Your M.I.N.D.” Sample clearance issues forced a brief eviction from the Internet, but not before it had stoked significant interest in this strange new group.
Since, Superorganism has added three more vocalists, and seven of the eight members live and make music together in London in a sort of DIY version of a Big Pop production house. They work like a factory, with song ideas conceived in the kitchen, recording happening over here, mixing over there and accompanying visuals coming to life down the hall.
It makes sense, then, that Superorganism’s self-titled debut album has the feel of a surreal, futuristic collage. Galloping electronic beats sit alongside honeyed vocal harmonies, bird chirps flutter around a bloodless bass line, synths shimmer and whoosh and burp, spoken-word samples show up out of nowhere. At the center of this frolicsome soundworld is Orono’s consistently compelling voice, often deadpanned, sometimes slack-rapped and regularly pitch-shifted on the fly.
The whole thing belongs on the same shelf as the audio patchworks of Odelay-era Beck, mid-period Flaming Lips’ lysergic showtunes, modern indie shoegaze, Mr. Oizo’s distorted synth-hop and whatever weird tape-warped stuff is cool right now. It’s a combo that’s harmlessly bizarre, hyper-current and highly listenable. Superorganism will probably be huge by summer.
More certain is that Superorganism is plugged in to the unique ennui and individualism of our current times. “Everybody Wants to Be Famous” is an anthem for Internet-memdom set to a heavy chunk of robot funk, complete with the “cha-ching” of a cash register (or, perhaps more accurately, of Mario grabbing a gold coin). “Nobody Cares” is an ode to doing exactly what you want to do without worrying about what others think, backed by a mildly twangy tune pushed through a pixelated blender. “It’s All Good” buzzes and clunks like the soundtrack to Battle Of The Bands: Black Moth Super Rainbow Vs. The Polyphonic Spree (a videogame I just made up). “The Prawn Song” sounds like Jay Som covering Ween, backed by Michael Winslow (Larvell Jones from the Police Academy movies).
Of course, this kind of maximalist pop music often wears out its welcome quickly, and Superorganism loses momentum in its final third, but not before offering its two best tracks: “Reflections on the Screen” and “SPRORGNSM.” The former reveals what this band sounds like when it takes a more traditional approach to production, and it’s a sumptuous, forward-thinking, world-weary folk-pop band. The latter is Superorganism at its Superorganism-est, all big beats and laser-gun synths and sun-fried, shout-along choruses. It’s pretty irresistible stuff, and they seem to know it:
It wasn’t right for you to refuse.
It’s okay now you’re part of the only thing alive.
Everybody wants to be a superorganism
We all will be one day, I bet. It’s only a matter of time.