Underscores Releases Dynamic Concept Album 'Wallsocket'

Written by Jackson Resnick

Twenty-three year old April Harper Grey, better known as Underscores, has just released her fourth full length album, Wallsocket, via Mom & Pop Records. Underscores has been gaining a lot of attention over the past few years as one of the more forward-thinking artists in the world of DIY pop music. Following up her seven song EP boneyard aka fearmonger, Wallsocket is a deeper dive into the immersive world that Underscores has been building up around her music over the past few years. 

The story around the album takes place in a made-up upper-middle class suburb in Michigan, and touches on the strange experience of growing up in America. It is an entertaining commentary on suburban life that is relatable on a number of levels. While Underscores has dubbed this a “concept album” in a recent interview with NME, it plays out more like the score to a really unsettling high-school coming-of-age film.

The opening track “Cops and robbers” is an explosive rock anthem that sets the scene brilliantly, telling the story of an identity-stealing banker who runs away from the law to hide out in a small town, the town of Wallsocket. From here, Underscores continues to guide us through the bizarre universe she’s built on this project with the dance-infused “Locals (Girls like us).” featuring Gabby Start. This high intensity start does a quick 180 on “You don’t even know who I am,” which features a haunting, almost whispery vocal performance from Grey over a sparse guitar riff. The track exudes this eerie feeling of solitude, a feeling that is present throughout the album. Similarly, “Duhhhh” is a hyper-modern ballad that tells the story of someone with a mysterious benign condition. Tracks like these convey the discomfort and bizarreness of suburban life in an oddly entertaining and thoughtful way. 

Stylistically and volume-wise, the album is super dynamic. “Geez louise” starts out with a punk rock-esque intro and suddenly transitions to a country-rock jam. Perhaps the biggest curveball on this album is Underscores’ utilization of western music across the project. It actually plays out exceptionally well and helps set the scene of this middle-American suburban setting in which Wallsocket takes place. “Uncanny long arms” with Jane Remover is another dramatic multi-phased track that fits seamlessly as the penultimate song before the acoustic “Good luck final girl” closes out the project. 

Wallsocket is thoroughly entertaining the whole way through, especially on “Old money bitch,” a rich girl diss track that a lot of people will get a kick out of. Grey’s production approach has this beautifully digital character about it that always finds a way to do the opposite of what you would expect to hear. She packs an entire adolescence's worth of emotion into these twelve songs, drawing on the growing pains of being a teenager and telling those stories through an exaggerated and oftentimes murderous lens. Her ability to play with humor and horror simultaneously is one of the more unique approaches to songwriting you’ll hear in the world of pop music nowadays. Wallsocket is a brilliant execution of the ambitious vision that Underscores clearly had in mind going into the making of this record. 

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