Chumped is a fun band. The music is fun, the shows are fun, the band members can throw a rad party and are fun to drink with. That’s all true. But in a way, that obscures the truth; that beneath the sneering about the New York City Subway system and riffy guitars, there’s incredible depth to the words you’re singing along to.
Suitably, the Chumped EP begins with “Union Square,” a song about the ever unpleasant morning commute, and how the train is weird because you’re surrounded by people but you’re not really supposed to talk to any of them. “Yeah we’re all in this together. But what does it all mean? Not a damn thing.” Being surrounded by millions of people but still feeling alone.
The quick pace and hook driven melodies continue for the next few songs. “Someday” and “Something About Lemons” keep the party going with catchy as shit lines about how we’re all wasting our time and don’t know what to do with it anyway. It’s more mature than what you’d typically hear from songs that sound this light. It’s a step forward for pop punk. It’s not rehashed, because Anika’s not the same person you’ve heard voicing these fears. It’s a different perspective and a killer delivery.
“Eleanor” touches on that best friend you discovered music with, and how those times were the best because you were young and can never live them again. The ceaseless nostalgia of the sad bastard. What really draws me in is that it’s a song about missing someone who isn’t really gone, you just grew apart or moved away and don’t see each other much anymore. And now, when you hear a song you discovered or wrote together, it takes you right back.
It’s the last two tracks that really sell me on this EP and cement the sad bastard status. “Let Him Lie” is about being so lonely that you sleep with someone when you know they’re just in it for the sex. But you’re not in it for the sex. “And when he fucks you you feel wanted even if it only lasts for a moment. And when it’s over you feel empty but you’d rather be deceived then be alone. Let him lie til you feel better. You can’t love yourself. So you love someone else.”
I heard “Dear Emily Dickinson” for the first time live. Chumped ended their set with it, and it really caught my attention. There’s a part where everything drops out except for Anika’s vocals and the bass, “Can you please get these things on your way from work? I wanna cook us dinner and make love afterward.” It’s slow. It hits hard. Real hard. I hope they have more songs like this on their next release.
The themes are all familiar, but are explored in deeply personal ways. It’s like a movie where you know the plot, but not the characters or the dialogue. Maybe you pay more attention to the characters and the dialogue in this movie, because maybe they’re the point.