Couch Cult started the same as many new acts – a passion project that rose, like a phoenix, out of the ashes of the pandemic. This particular trio watched, ostensibly, from a basement window as the world woke up again. This re-awakening of the world inspired their latest album, an almost self-titled affair they’ve entitled The Couch Cult EP. They explore themes of “altered perception, introspection, and the struggle to find authenticity in an ever-changing post-pandemic world,” a common and relatable struggle for those of us still trying to pick up the shattered pieces of a world we’ve been forced to leave behind.
The album opens with “Psilo,” a not-so-obvious nod to the psilocybin found in a certain variety of mushrooms. There’s been lots of disassociation post-pandemic, and this song, thematically, hits the nail on the proverbial head. But rather than focus on one’s failures, this song urges the listener to focus on the journey rather than individual outcomes. Musically, the song bounces around with a whimsical feel, utilizing plucky guitars, thumping bass, and shimmers of synth ambiance. These plinks and plunks of synth are an apt aural representation of the visuals one might experience on mushrooms – all in all, an all-encompassing way to kick this EP off.
If you’re as obsessed with the lore of Woodstock ’99 as we are, we have good news. Song two here is called “Woodstock ’99,” and while the otherworldly synth textures and beyond-fuzzed bass are more reminiscent of 2023 than the 90s, there is certainly a grungy undercurrent here that evokes that fateful festival. For all its faults and many atrocities, Woodstock ’99 is a now-iconic part of American history… This song imagines (and captures) the feelings and emotions that might come along with the aftermath of such an event. Going in expecting a flower-power festival and getting a nu-metal riot must have been one hell of an experience, and the unique, sludgy vibe of “’99” certainly captures that uncertainty.
Album highlight “Tragedy” and the following song, “Smile, Baby” find the band crafting their most digestible song structures. Bringing to mind Crumb or Men I Trust, “Tragedy” pairs a constant bass with ethereal guitar twinkling and the album’s strongest hooks. The band notes that, as tempting as it may be to idealize what once was, we all have a tendency to view the past through a rose-tinted lens of nostalgia. The downtrodden but melody-conscious vibes here capture those feelings perfectly and left us thoroughly questioning our happiest memories… Albeit, in a good way. Same goes for “Smile, Baby” – when they’re not exploring psychedelic themes, Couch Cult can boil their songwriting down to crunchy chords and memorable rhythms. It’s a welcome respite after the one-two punch of “Psilo” into “Woodstock.”
Finally, the band dives even deeper into relationship themes on EP closer “Synthetic.” Rather than opt for the typical slow burner, “Synthetic” keeps the energy from “Tragedy” and “Smile” and doubles down. We can’t help but love the underwater bass and guitar tones used throughout the album – it’s truly a unique listen and gives Couch Cult an identity like no other. There’s a wonderful juxtaposition between omnipleasant instrumentals here and a darker acknowledgement of our past… Try not to get lost in a spiral and let The Couch Cult EP act as a funnel for your unresolved feelings… You’re gonna be just fine.