Welcome to Throwback Thursday, a weekly series showcasing an album, single, music video or performance of a bygone era and its personal and/or cultural significance.
Karmin started strong, configuring up a devilish hip-hop/pop synthesis. 2012’s Hello EP presented a duo ⎯⎯ of spit masters Amy and Nick Noonan ⎯⎯ so fearless, so adeptly crafty, they could do no wrong. From the swooping breeze-punch of “Walking on the Moon” to the rainbow-arched elasticity of “Brokenhearted,” their melodies instantly stuck on the brain, verifying their Top 40 friendliness beyond the shadow of a doubt. “I Told You So,” their strongest, most vigorous vocal composition to-date, pasted with punk adhesive and a relish for twisted guitars, remains a wondrous mile marker in mainstream music, pre-dating the explosive success of twenty one pilots and the work of such torch-bearing genre-benders as Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Khalid.
But the pair’s musical talents didn’t quite translate on later albums, namely 2014’s Pulses and 2016’s Leo Rising, both which suffer from severely sluggish hooks and a weary, lifeless scope. In the years following the splashy Hello EP, they’ve somehow lost their sparkle, succumbing to starlit pressure, their strengths vanishing between their fingertips, and have yet to regain their fiery glory. Amy and Nick are hella gifted, so it comes as a bummer they haven’t bounced back.
Upon re-listens, the stalwart, seven-song Hello EP shines as bright as ever. “Nothing you can do to break us now / Singing our songs, getting lost in the sound,” Amy hisses on piano-based mid-tempo cooker “Coming Up Strong,” zipping between slinky R&B and ardent balladeering. “Too Many Fish,” then, jingles between their colorful extremes, etched with a brazen shrills and rapid word jabs. “I was fishing for a real good man, any second ’bout to reel one in / A little bate, and I had one hooked, I threw him back, he was no good,” Amy fusses over an army of handclaps, brassy horns and funky backing layers. “Why you stressing me boy? Blowin’ up my line, are you testin’ me boy? / I ain’t gonna give you the best of me boy / If gleaming is a crime you arrestin’ me boy, let me be boy.”
Karmin might be lost and musically-puzzled these days ⎯⎯ but we relive the lush charm and splendor of Hello and simply smile. We’ll be waiting for you, Amy and Nick.