Since its release last month, I’ve enjoyed the Losers Weepers EP by Toronto duo Babygirl quite a bit, some days playing it back-to-back-to-back – easy to do as it’s a mere 20 minutes long. Theirs is a well-crafted sound that’s airy, poppy and rock, akin at times to the School, the Wales indie-pop band that sports a glorious retro sound, but a tad more mid-tempo and modern. In the past, they’ve labeled their music “bubblegum emo” and, now, “pop songs with sad guitars.” Both fit.
The backstory: Kiki Frances and Cam Breithaupt, aka Babygirl, met last decade at Humber College in Toronto, where they were both enrolled in the school’s jazz-heavy music program, and bonded over a mutual appreciation of Lil’ Wayne and pop music. From what I’ve read, they contemplated becoming a songwriting team, as they were somewhat intimidated by the array of talent that surrounded them, but a performer is a performer is a performer – which is to say, at the end of the day they instead formed a band and took their name from an a cappella group that Frances had formed in grade school.
Listen once to Losers Weepers and you’ll listen twice if only to piece together what you just heard. In a way, their music is an amalgamation of sounds sliced, diced and spliced together, with certain snippets sure to remind you of other songs, other artists. (That’s not a negative, by the way.) When I first clicked play, for instance, I initially found myself distracted from the demands of my day job by the multitude of echoes I heard bouncing around the melancholic melodies. There’s a trumpet flourish at the end of “Easy,” the opening track, that conjures the mainstream pop of the 1960s, especially Herb Alpert, while the transition into uptempo harmony heaven on “Nevermind” simultaneously evokes the magic, mystery and bell bottoms of the early ‘70s and the infectious alterna-pop of the early ‘90s. Yet, echoes and all, the songs sound utterly original.
“Million Dollar Bed,” on the other hand, initially sent me skipping like a stone along the memory banks of my mind in search of what the chorus reminded me of – and, half a day later, bam! It hit me. It’s Wham’s “Last Christmas.” (I was never into George Michael’s music, so I’m sure it took me longer than it would others.) Play the two back-to-back and you’ll never un-hear the similarity. I assume it’s an intentional tip of the hat, but even if it’s not… it’s cool all the same.
Anyway, at the end of the day, Losers Weepers is tasty shot of downbeat pop that’s accented by wry lyrics that would be at home in many a country tearjerker ballad. It’s not in my normal wheelhouse, granted, which is the main reason why I held back on spotlighting it – but, at the end of the day, it’s too good an EP to not to share. In short, it’s a collection of somebody-done-somebody-wrong songs set to sad melodies – so sad they’ll make everybody cry. About the only thing that could have made it better: a cover of B.J. Thomas’ “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” which won songwriters Larry Butler and Chips Moman a Grammy back in ’76.
The track list: