CYM is the most recent output from Irish singer/songwriter/producer Margaret O’Sullivan, better known as Femmepop.
From the opening seconds, the sound is a delicious surprise. Maybe I was expecting something more closely comparable with Femmepop’s last release, Dancing With Myself – and this is not. It’s a huge hit of something more, something new, something bigger. A sensory delight of delicate arpeggios and glass-like percussive under waves of rich, electro-orchestral layers, opening track Astra contains that very Femmepop feel of uplifting sound combined with an underlayer nudging towards a darker promise.
CYM works to fulfil that promise, and is our first reintroduction on this EP to the simultaneously delicate and strong, carrying vocals which perfectly overlay those multi dimensional melodies. The evolution of her vocal style is clear from the very first few seconds, and whilst the tonality and underlying sound quality holds a certain familiarity, there’s a confidence and presence there which is more sophisticated, more immersive.
Motion is another full instrumental, and I do find electronic instrumentals a divisive area. It’s all too easy to feel as if the vocals are ‘missing’ in some offerings, but this EP certainly falls far from that. Motion kicks in with a grinding bass, rapidly joined by sparkling synths and a slab of deep, melodic rhythm that carries the track through soaring, melancholics and bright layers. There’s a wistfulness in this, for me, in a similar way that the recollection of a distant memory can bring a smile both happy and sad.
Closing track Suck It Up returns to an altogether poppier sound with a bubbling lead sound and clear, confident vocals which alternately sweep across the wall of rhythm and sound, and then fold up into them. There’s a definite fleeced element to this track, almost pulling back a little from the slightly moodier tone of the previous tracks, and it wraps up the EP perfectly.
It’s clear that the constant hard work and prolific live performance that O’Sullivan does – something that’s obvious from having followed her on social media for the past couple of years – has had a profound effect on her already considerable talent as a musician and producer. If her musical evolution between DWM and this is any measure to go by, then I’m already excited to hear what she does next.