Lil Sprout: Kevin & the Bikes’ “Submarine”

Written by Travis Shosa

Named for the antagonistic, backward cap-wearing jock from Ed, Edd n Eddy, Charlotte-based band Kevin & the Bikes recorded an EP and two albums worth of dork and jawbreaker-inspired experimental shitpost rock before taking listeners to cul-de-sac class with Dorkcore 101. A nearly four-hour-long, 101-track project complete with mangled Weezer covers, parodically aimless podcast clips, and jangle pop gems that showed their hand as genuinely talented songwriters, it was self-indulgent but managed to push the off-the-cuff idiocy of early Ween to new heights. Its follow-up, 2020’s Ironic Songs (billed as ironically unironic), eschewed gimmicks: manifesting as a taut collection of slacker jams, supplemented with sardonic wit reminiscent of King Missile. To those who’ve followed the expanded works of Todd Jordan as Pink Pots and Floating Cloud Music, this shift towards more “serious” music was only surprising because it happened under the Kevin moniker.

Their new single “Submarine” represents yet another turn, this time towards watery psychedelia. Wet textures, shuffling baggy rhythms, disjointed ghostly harmonies, and persistent sonar pings set a course along the barrier reef between Merriweather Post Pavilion and the British pop of the late ’80s and ‘90s. “There’s just no desire / An iron coffin in the sea / How could there ever be a fire / In a submarine?” The fire is a danger but an inspiration: by attempting to shut out risk, they cast out reward. Bristling power chords mark a triumphant end as they reduce the underwater casket to scrap metal: Even when you push the flame away, it can always find you again.

For more Kevin & the Bikes, you can watch their video for “Turbulence”:

Travis Shosa is the founder and editor-in-chief of Stamens/Pistils/Parties. Formerly the runner of COUNTERZINE, he has bylines at Pitchfork, The Alternative, and Post-Trash among others.

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