PiL, meds, disco, half Mexican, half Japanese, The SOS Band, monster guitar riffs, drinking, more drinking, The dB’s, divorce, death, arrests, cannibalism, no compromises, The Bee Gees, shimmering melodies and stalking. FROM BUBBLEGUM TO SKY ain’t no sunny pop affair – it just sounds like it.
By winter, A Soft Kill, the third full-length album by FROM BUBBLEGUM TO SKY is certain to be considered one of the greatest one-man albums of the year. Only the maturity that comes with brushing against and immersing oneself in the influences mentioned above could bring out an album that is at once ultimately catchy, realistically morose, and expertly played. In a word: fucking relatable.
The one man is Mario Hernandez and he’s been wrestling with a few demons. Hernandez’s previous records Me and Amy and the Two French Boys (Eenie Meenie, 200X) and Nothing Sadder Than Lonely Queen (Eenie Meenie, 200X) certainly hinted at genius – what with the confessional lyrics sung in a helium tinged voice that lights the drapes on fire meeting the hook laden crunch fest that cools ‘em down. With A Soft Kill, Hernandez has crafted a masterpiece. He demurs, stating, “This record is much more inspired – less obvious indie pop, more organic and drunk. It’s an outlet and easily my favorite record.” Ours, too.
A Soft Kill brings to mind the concept of the vices people use to kill themselves slowly. Not a murder, but a soft kill. Feelings we’ve all felt are wrapped in pristine pop melodies, sandpaper-y guitars and a vocal style dictated by the radio programs of second generation pop songs and high voiced singers that Hernandez listened to before departing Japan for America at the age of 12.
As a self-contained pop machine (occasionally joined by bassist Frank Jordan and Keyboardist Bill Evans) Hernandez does the control freak edict of Billy Corgan and Dave Grohl proud on A Soft Kill. No one should be playing drums on a FROM BUBBLEGUM TO SKY record but Hernandez — this kind of urgency demands the percussive touch of the author, after all! And is he ever keeping time – 11 songs, 30 minutes. It doesn’t get any better.
“I feel like it’s a band, even though it’s just me,” he says. “The things that people are doing to me, or I’m doing to them, or whatever experiences I’m having — that’s the band. I couldn’t write without those experiences and in a way that’s what a band member does.”
This band is a motley crew. Some sample lyrics from A Soft Kill: “No. I don’t wanna itch what burns your thighs.” from “The Flash” “40 years old – just like 20 years ago.” from “I Always Fall Apart” “Your miracle is giving head.” from “Guest Relations” “You know I love it when you say you don’t need me.” from “Say Goodbye” “We drown ourselves in death.” from “A Soft Kill” “It’s all I could do not to sink my teeth in you.” from “My Je m’appelle” “I resolve to steal your sunbeam.” from “Even The Sunbeams” “Lie in bed for months on end.” from “Flies On a Jet Plane” “Don’t count on god or on sunny rays.” from “Captain Tennille” “…New York where even the sun will let you down.” from “Downtown or Up?”
These are the words of the ONE man becoming THE man. When Mario Hernandez is letting it all hang out, you wanna hang out, too.
FROM BUBBLEGUM TO SKY’s A Soft Kill will be released by Eenie Meenie Records as a digital download and vinyl LP only. The vinyl configuration will come packaged with a FROM BUBBLEGUM TO SKY t-shirt designed by the Brown Sound Clothing Company. The album was recorded at CBS Studios in Oakland, CA on a Tascam one-inch reel-to-reel.
- Joshua Bloom, 2008