REVIEW: LAUREL’s "Petrol Bloom" is a blur of neon bliss
Previously known as a bedroom-produced indie rocker, LAUREL has made quite the pivot with her new EP Petrol Bloom. Now that she’s been granted the resources provided by a successful first album, she’s put out a neon-tinged pop project that shows a whole new side to her persona. Though it might not have as much in common with her first record DOGVIOLET aesthetically, it still contains her evocative lyricism and smoky vocals. If you’re willing to try something new, Petrol Bloom is a fun, if a bit muddled, ride.
Single “Scream Drive Faster” kicks things off strong. It sort of feels like if Kate Bush did vaporwave, and I mean that as a compliment. LAUREL manages to stay away from indie girl voice syndrome (think Halsey’s hundreds of clones) despite having a sultry alto tone and it works to her advantage in a pop setting, as Dua Lipa has proved before her. Her lyrics here don’t exactly tell a story, but they do paint a nice picture that fits the vaporwave comparison. It’s easy to get lost in. If that’s not the mark of a good pop song, I don’t know what is.
The rest of the EP is where my excitement starts to die down. “Best I Ever Had” and “Appetite” are both enjoyable songs, but they sound more or less the same. They both use guitar sounds that were cooler four years ago; that funky guitar vibe that put COIN and Bad Suns in the indie spotlight in the mid-10’s, that is, admittedly, quite fun, is the backbone of these songs. LAUREL layers colorful synths in there that do distinguish them as her songs, but neither track really goes anywhere. They do have good choruses and nice lyrics, but they don’t take me on the same kind of journey that “Scream Drive Faster” does, and that’s a shame.
Fortunately, the final two tracks “When You’re Walking Away” and “Sometimes” are both lush, dreamy explorations into synth-pop. “When You’re Walking Away” is much more unique than the tracks that came before it, dedicating itself fully to chill, expansive soundscapes that bolster an engrossing story about a hot and cold relationship. “Sometimes” is pure 80s bliss, complete with “In the Air Tonight”-esque drum fills. They’re more relaxed than “Scream Drive Faster,” but together they’re a strong three-song collection that promise great things for the next LAUREL project.
That being said, if you enjoy synthwave, vaporwave, or just pretending you live in 1985, Petrol Bloom is definitely worth checking out. It’s well-produced and has some lovely vocals from LAUREL herself. If you don’t mind a bit of repetition, it’s still an enjoyable bit of pop to close out your 2020.