SuperKnova is a DIY project from Chicago multi–instrumentalist Ellie Kim. American Queers is billed as a debut album but it might be better described as a mini-album or an EP. Although, over the course of seven songs, Kim covers enough musical ground to make it feel like a full length LP. Her subject matter veers from the personal to the political without ever sacrificing melody. This is a record that would work even if you didn’t have a word of English. Apparently her live shows are Ed Sheeran-esque solo productions, with loop pedals and improvisation. I’d quite like to see that.
‘Glitter And Blood’ is the opening track and a recent single. It merges programmed beats and synths with a guitar solo reminiscent of Robert Fripp’s crazed experimentalism with David Bowie. The interplay between the synths and guitars continues to ‘2 Power! ‘ where the two instruments duet like ‘80s hair metallers playing back to back and trading licks. Such disregard for fashion and convention makes American Queers a compelling listen.
‘Shot And A Pill’ could have been penned by the aforementioned Sheeran and his writers, as could the languid surf rock of ‘Serotonin Serenade‘. ‘Off My Body’ has the strongest hook on the record. Kim has saved the best for last. Although it’s very close to ‘Shape Of You‘ in melody, the chorus of ‘Keep your laws/Off my body / I am heavenly /I was made this way’ is made for chanting at a live show. The jazzy outro is crying out for a saxophone jam.
Ultimately American Queers marks Superknova as one to watch rather than being a defining work. It doesn’t sound self produced. The bass is massive. There is space in the music and every instrument is clear and sharp. Kim is an assured voice and she’s only a pop hook away from having a major hit on her hands. In a world where Billie Eilish can get her alt-pop to number one around the planet, there is surely a lucrative market for Kim’s imaginative DIY.
American Queers is available via bandcamp here.