Stevie Zita’s Instagram features a “bathroom series” – acoustic covers of iconic indie pop and rock tunes recorded in his bathroom. These are lovely for several reasons – Zita’s wide, full vocals, emotional alt-rock strumming, and, most significantly for me, the bathroom itself. Anyone who’s done any home recording knows the sweet, special reverb of a bathroom – it’s an echoey, harmonic-dense, pillow fluff sound that software can never quite replicate. The title track off Zita’s new EP Cosmica has some of this special reverb – in the vocals especially – but through some really interesting textural layering, it seems to transport Zita’s bathroom into outer space, or maybe uploads it into the loading screen of some cult-classic, vintage arcade game.
Crucial to this effect is a sparkly, retro-Juno lead that dances around the outer edges of the stereo, like a shooting star orbiting the song’s instrumental core. Cosmica’s cover art looks like the protagonist of an anime space opera, and you can definitely hear this Juno playing her theme song. The track also features some Mac Demarco-ish dry, compressed drums, and there’s some OK Computer in the cinematic drama of its orchestral string and pad swells. All these different textures fit together surprisingly well. They play at the unmoored spaciness of dream pop, or the fuzzy crunch of jangle-gaze, but really the song lives in a retro, psych pop lane of its own. I’ve always been flummoxed by how Ariel Pink manages to effectively collage such disparate sounds. “Cosmica” achieves this same impressive effect. I realize I’m overusing the outer space analogy, but all together, the song really sounds like different worlds passing by outside a spaceship window.
This works really well within the song’s lyrical content. Zita sings of “drifting to unknown places,” and “passing by stars.” He’s on a kind of journey, searching for the wild, galaxies-away love of “Cosmica.” I imagine “Cosmica” as the EP’s cover art – a beautiful primordial character living in some 80’s synth-wave recess of hyperspace – and Zita as a lost traveler on a long and lonely search for her love. Zita’s vocals themselves – the bathroom-core (if I might coin a new genre) heart of the song – have some Alex Turner laid-back charisma, which helps him hold his own against the track’s dramatic swells. The 5 o’clock shadow, whiskey-grizzle in his vocal tambor supports the song’s sense of cinematic gravitas. You can picture 2003 Viggo Mortenson playing Zita’s character – piloting his bathroom spaceship through pixelated starscapes.