REVIEW: Pompey - More is Less

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Raquel Dalarossa

Pompey is a singer-songwriter, otherwise known only as "Alex KS," who has been releasing music under the moniker since early 2016. With six EPs under his belt, one would think he might be overdue to release a full-length by now, but, as the title of his latest release appropriately indicates, sometimes it's best to keep things simple.

More is Less is a new five-track collection that adds to a growing catalog of thoughtful and thoughtfully crafted bedroom pop. Recorded with the help of Thanya Iyer and Daniel Gelinas, at the latter's own studio, it's a far cry from Pompey's first release (which was recorded on an iPhone), but feels just as intimate. The vocals sound, consistently, very close to the ear, and the instrumentation is minimal—a grungy electric guitar is paired with playful synths and supporting percussion.

The approach results in a faithful emphasis on the singer's softly spoken, vulnerable vocals and unassuming lyrics. Opening song "Fractions" is, as we said in our premiere a few months back, "refreshingly straightforward and relatable." As it turns out, much of the EP hews to that description. In "Cincihappy," we get a glimpse into one of those rare moments where faith in one’s self and faith in the universe collide, as he sings "I'm pretty happy / Everything seems fine / I'm not in a rush / To figure it out." Right after that, though, we hear a much more reticent and run-down version of the singer as he confides, "Sometimes all I want to do is lay in bed and watch Friends on Netflix."

The centerpiece, though, is the nearly seven minute-long "Give In." Showcasing how mindsets and moods can turn in a moment, the song starts out with an anxious, droning intro that feels a bit like being stuck in a loop of self-conscious thoughts; then, it slows down dramatically, like a self-imposed intervention in which we take a deep breath and "take it one step at a time." Finally, the track picks up some confidence and pace midway through, but Pompey struggles to commit to that confidence, wavering between the mantras “I’m not giving up” and “I’m not good enough.”

Pompey's greatest talent is turning the prosaic into poetry. The simplicity of his writing is precisely what allows it to feel so recognizable and stirring. When all is said and done, he's right—more really would be less.