Championing my personal pick for the best new song of the week has been an ongoing endeavor since the start of this calendar year, and I haven’t previously had such a difficult time settling on a selection. This week brought fantastic new offerings from a slew of artists who already have a firm grasp on my attention: Angel Olsen, Mikal Cronin, Haim, Sleater-Kinney (but I can’t feature them again, right?), and Carly Rae Jepsen (collaborating with Gryffin). And then there were stellar turns from new to me acts Parsnip and Snarls. I would have happily slid any of these tracks forth for consideration, bobbing my head joyfully. I very nearly just plunked a playlist into this digital space as a form of surrender.
But I gave myself an assignment, and I aim to fulfill it. Luckily for me, it quickly became clear that one track tickled my inner being more than any other, even in this field of champions. When in doubt, I simply ask myself which song is the one that my old college radio self would play compulsively, helplessly, all besotted and blissful.
Pom Pom Squad is a band started by Mia Berrin, a former resident of Orlando who moved from bedroom recordings to sturdier stages after relocating to New York and picking up a few bandmates. By all accounts, Pom Pom Squad is Berrin’s creative voice, passion, and confessional all rolled into one. The sound revives a certain bygone punk and riot grrrl spirit, but flavored with a keening tunefulness that’s reminiscent of the path alternative rock could have followed in the nineteen-nineties if it grabbed its map from Veruca Salt, Elastica, and Tracy Bonham instead of Bush and Silverchair. To employ more current references, in a magical realm where one kingdom is ruled by Waxahatchee and the other by Diet Cig, Pom Pom Squad lives in the borderlands.
In advance of a new EP, entitled Ow, Pom Pom Squad has released “Honeysuckle,” a preciously perfect single. It has a chewy melody line, a clicking rhythm, and buzzing guitars that occasionally threaten to turn into an unstoppable swarm. All the while, Berrin moans out lyrics of punishing heartache and toxic romantic dependency, repeatedly asking, “If I’m nothing without you am I anything at all?” The song has a walloping power and intoxicating rock luxury. And it all wraps up in just over three minutes, properly adhering to the wise economy of great pop songs.
Truly, I couldn’t love this more.