Texan Chase DeMaster (an appropriate surname for the synth pop MC) is Children of Pop, the one- man act behind What Does 69 Mean. The recently released album is DeMaster’s second, and comes at a busy point in his career. A national tour is in the works for this summer, as is Get a Life, the artist’s collaborative venture with fellow experimental musicians David Bazan, Sufjan Stevens, and Yuuki Matthews. Conceived, fleshed out, and delivered in a nook of DeMaster’s home, the album presents ten songs, one for every murky commandment of the twenty-first century love scene. Retaining Children of Pop’s inherently experimental nature, it’s DIY to the core, simultaneously keeping up with the wave of new artists and techniques brought to the surface by electronica.
What Does 69 Mean opens with “Manic,” closes with “Don’t Change for Love,” and houses questions, answers and notable singles in between. Halfway through “Manic,” I can’t help but pick up a little bit of Beck in Chase’s mellowed out vocals. I find that the two are similar in their electronic wanderings as they appear to get lost in acres of sonic bayou, remorseless and perpetually chill. The song hits the way it does, because it’s not manic at all; it speeds up but doesn’t lurch forward, eventually dissipating into slight bursts of sound that bring to mind that old-school 8-bit arcade game sphere you shoot at little meteors falling from the sky. “If I could just…” breathes DeMaster, echoing a small, private desire for something more.
Toward the midway point, the tracks fan out across a spectrum of tones and “Dreamcast Swirl Emoji” starts off spunky, strutting right into a sea of questions for that evasive you that DeMasters addresses in a lot of his lyrics. It’s a funk track, with a few embellishments that speak to the synth pop age.
“RUINIT4LUV?!” follows right after with a defining bass underwire and almost resigned, but totally self- aware, vocals ricocheting off the walls of the song. “Jealous Lover” boasts what might just be the most distinct intro beat of the album, which continues throughout the entire track, allowing DeMaster’s voice to come in and out of focus. The R&B influence comes through strong, and the song flows thickly and smoothly, like spiked maple syrup.
The final track, featuring the Wrestlers’ Aiden Kennedy, is symphonic, tying What Does 69 Mean, together at the peak with a select few strands of instrumental nuance, and purpose. I’d recommend this album to anyone who can appreciate an experiment in harmonics alongside a direct message on modern love, modern lovemaking, and the fine lines in between.
If you can’t catch Children of Pop at Houston’s Free Press Summer Festival in June, stay tuned for the summer tour announcement!