Music Reviews March/April

Ryan Gronich, Music Critic and Puzzle Master

INDIE/ALTERNATIVE: Threesome – Baby Boys (March 12)

Hippo Campus is a band pretty well-known in teenage indie circles for songs like “Way It Goes” and “Buttercup,” jaunty indie-pop tunes decorated by their performers’ warbling vocals and guitar pedals. Baby Boys’ Threesome sees two of their four members (singer Jake Luppen and guitarist Nathan Stocker) join local Twin Cities friend and more electronically-inclined musician Caleb Hinz in a new project that marries their styles extremely well. The music on this record definitely veers more into the computer-produced territory than I’m used to hearing from this group, but Stocker’s exceedingly competent guitar work isn’t lost in the least, and neither is Luppen’s adventurous drawl even through its filters. Even with the electronic production, this isn’t a dance-y album. The band, self-described delightfully as “mischief-pop,” tells the story of Threesome as a record that came together almost entirely of improv during a single week in-studio, and I think that freeform energy is what makes it so special. I’m quite impressed that a project built out of what sounds like a very long jam sesh came out sounding so put-together. Luppen, Hinz, and Stocker clearly have a huge amount of chemistry. If you’re into catchy indie pop but are looking for something a little quieter, I highly recommend this record.



As someone who played 2017’s The Click on repeat until it broke but hated 2019’s Neotheater, I’m conflicted about this album. AJR to me is a band whose talent for earworm hooks is extremely mighty but tends to think way too much of themselves for it. The singles off OK ORCHESTRA were, for the most part, very good; “Bang!” and “Way Less Sad” are exactly the kind of radio hits I like, especially for the genre AJR tries to operate in. This record sees a lot of the fun-weird, bouncy instrumentation that’s what endears the band to me, but everyone keeps trying to tell me that it’s the most ‘adventurous’ thing they’ve ever done, and I’ll be honest and say I don’t see it at all. If you already like AJR, you’ll probably like it, and you don’t, you probably won’t. It’s not groundbreaking in the least. I’ll also say that while I think the melodies are generally very solid, the lyrics are so embarrassing that they gave me pause in rating this album highly. “Joe” and the previously-mentioned “Way Less Sad” are the only ones that don’t make me cringe at least once. I say all this like I didn’t save more than half the record; I think besides the lyricism, which requires the Met brothers to learn some self-awareness about how genius their music is, this was a fun album and keeps getting stuck in my head. Check it out.



Brockhampton has always been a kind of enigma, as a group of rappers from south Texas self-describing as a boy band and doing things like releasing three fully-formed albums in half a year. They’ve always been ambitious and inventive with their music. This latest release, ROADRUNNER, is an album of something we haven’t seen from the band thus far: features, which are so commonplace in the rap scene nowadays that they’ve come to be expected. It’s hard, then, to make this concept seem fresh, but Brockhampton manages it with ease, throwing in an unbelievably interesting collection of backing tracks to boot.“THE LIGHT” for example brings a wall of electric guitar and what sounds to me like an electric organ to the forefront, and it does wonders for the album’s atmosphere; there are upwards of five producers for each track, and they blew it out of the water. The aforementioned featured artists also killed it without fail, and I think it’s impressive that the band managed to create such a good rapport with not one but seven people. Usually Brockhampton releases music at a pretty rapid-fire pace (see again the SATURATION trilogy in a seven-month period), but I think the almost two years off between their last release and ROADRUNNER has paid off ten times over. If you’re like me and like your rap as creative as it can get, listen to this.


I don’t just have to write blurbs about stuff I really liked lately– if you’ve got a request for me to talk about a new album you thought deserved it, shoot me an email at [email protected] and it’ll be a blast for both of us! Stay fresh, kids!