“I hope you’re ready to be really sad”, says Jonathan Hope, aka Gulfport, Mississippi bedroom pop artist if i die in mississippi, as introduction to his new album artless. What Hope describes as a “product of [my] overwhelming frustration with making music”, artless is a really good, if sometimes intense, introduction to the sound of if i die in mississippi, a fusion of bummed out bedroom pop and a more innate, instinctive, instrumental sound.
Take opening track ‘goth kids by the carousel in the mall’ as an example. The majority of the track is morose droning organ sounds, joined infrequently by disembodied voices. It brings to mind the emotive experimental ambient music of people like our pal Benjamin Shaw. The songs are infused with a very 21st Century sense of woe, like on the second track that sounds part funeral dirge, part slow-mo Nintendo soundtrack, with the informative title ‘everyone is playing Pokémon Go and i’m out of data’.
‘Makeshift Parties’ introduces the album’s first proper vocals, with Leah Rials and DeeDee Peffercorn joining Hope to deliver the single repeated line. Again the atmosphere is downbeat, but in a pretty, crystalline way, like driving alone through a cold clear city night, passing neon-lit gas stations and tall and lonely office blocks. The next track is as quietly nostalgic (again, in a sad way) as you’d expect from a song called ‘playing Spyro or Jersey Devil on PS1 w my brother’, while ‘this could be us but you playin’ is a change of pace, introducing acoustic guitar and vocals for a classic bedroom pop sound.
Closing proceedings is ‘dysphoria in the costume store’, an instrumental track that’s rich with a grand melancholy, pretty much the perfect ending to this sad and atmospheric collection of songs.