TOTEM first made waves in 2013 when his velvety indie pop began emerging online. Heartsick lyrics came to define the Atlantan-turned-New Yorker artist’s music, riffing on an age-old, can’t-fail formula that caters to humanity’s most relatable feelings: love and love lost.
The music itself is a collection of electronic blips and thick pads converging in bubbly soundscapes shaped around the disheartened lyrics. It’s a highly accessible package that looks to be more than just the sum of its parts; as Billboard noted last year: “This music pays attention to small details, but still aims for a big impact.”
Today, Nerdist is premiering TOTEM’s latest effort: “Bubblegum,” a playful pop anthem that adheres to his piecemeal style and outsized goals. The new track was produced by Aalias—the co-writer and co-producer of the Eminem/Rihanna smash, “Monster”—and it reflects his bigger-than-life pop aesthetic, too.
“Bubblegum” is downright effervescent, a carbonated tune that has all the crispness of a freshly popped soda can, and it remains unapologetically upbeat in spite of TOTEM’s characteristically downtrodden lyrics: “Sugar turns so bitter now / like bubblegum stale in my mouth / I hate the taste,” sings TOTEM. “I try my best to spit you out / In my blood you stick around / I hate the taste.”
“Bubblegum” joins the mass of breakup metaphors that exist in contemporary songwriting, this time capturing the cloying residue that lingers for too long. A stick of gum is good until it isn’t, but even after you spit it out, its bitter taste remains. For all you indie pop fans out there, this is one piece of “Bubblegum” that you won’t want to spit out.
Take “Bubblegum” for a spin above. It’s also available for purchase on iTunes.
Featured Image: Totem