Part of the wonder of Phono del Sol 2014 performer Blackbird Blackbird‘s new Tangerine Sky is how it deftly defies categorization. Read a couple of reviews and you’re likely to hear songs from this aural Rorschach test described as R&B, folktronica, dream pop, post-dubstep, and my favorite (or maybe least favorite, I can’t really tell at this point) “psychedelic poptronica.” In cases like this, I always default to the vague and generally unhelpful “electronic pop,” which meets the truth factor but totally undersells the level of genre-blending creativity that San Francisco’s Mikey Maramag serves up on his new collection of songs.
Instead of trying to fit Blackbird Blackbird into a discrete box, however, it’s probably better to just marvel at the subtle way that Maramag incorporates different sounds in a way that feels seamless. More than just a parlor trick, that limitless palette means that anything is possible on Tangerine Sky, a record that can explore melancholy on downtempo slow-burners just as easily as it can reach the euphoric highs associated with build-and-dismantle electronica.
None of this should be a surprise, of course. The terrific Boracay Planet EP established that Blackbird Blackbird could create compelling songs. Tangerine Sky, though, is a deeper dive into Maramag’s sonic world, and, even at eleven songs, when it ends, it feels like there’s still plenty left unexplored. It’s no surprise then, that early remixes of “There is Nowhere” have been so impressive and each wildly different. However you want to describe it, there’s something really special going on here.