From “la-la-la” and “ooh-ooh-ooh” to “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” and “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”, sometimes nonsense syllables capture the improvisational joy of pop music better than proper words ever could. With the hook on their standout single “Class Historian”, Oklahoma’s BRONCHO understands the use of these non-lexical vocables better than most. The song kicks off with a rapid-fire series of falsetto-sung “doot-doot-doot”s, making for one of the most contagious melodies of the year. Almost universally described with adjectives like “catchy” and “infectious,” “Class Historian” and the rest of the band’s sophomore album, Just Enough Hip to Be Woman, attempts to milk as much as possible out of their brand of power chord-induced earworms.
After releasing their 2011 debut, Can’t Get Past the Lips, and its highlight “Try Me Out Sometime” (a jangly blast of hook-heavy garage pop), the outfit’s buzz slowly trickled in after a soundtrack spot for films like Movie 43. Later, “It’s On”, the first off Just Enough Hip to Be Woman, appeared on the Season 3 premiere of Girls. Not one placement is surprising considering almost every BRONCHO song contains an enthusiastic punchiness. These are songs seemingly made for soundbites, with hooks and melodies condensed for maximum effectiveness. This isn’t a knock, as the album’s tight 32-minute runtime is largely enjoyable, but the constant barrage of saccharine melodies and garage pop snottiness begins to wear thin.
Opening the record are the undeniable jams “What” and “Class Historian”, bearing the influence of bands like Cheap Trick for two cohesive examples of power pop-minded garage rock. With the notable exceptions of “Stay Loose”, “China”, and to a lesser extent “I’m Gonna Find Out Where He’s At” — songs with dreamy, new wave-tinged atmosphere — the rest of the album stays in that snappy and smirking garage pop realm. The closer, “China”, hints at an emotional core that’s largely ignored on the rest of the album, with a krauty post-punk ominousness and an effective, atmospheric guitar jam. On that track, there’s an edge and gritty, ambitious guitar work that’s missing in the other offerings.
Even with the one-note headspace and lack of variety, BRONCHO are unequivocally strong in their near mastery of sunny melodies and deft pop sensibilities. Songs like “Class Historian” are so special in that they distill rock into its simplest and most endearing form, latching onto listeners with an overwhelming zeal. With the whole of Just Enough Hip to Be Woman, though, there’s more needed to jump into greatness than just those peppy, almost virulent hooks.
Essential Tracks: “Class Historian”, “Stay Loose”, and “China”