With Bandcamp as their roadmap to discovery and YouTube as their confessional, artists like Soccer Mommy, Clairo, and Jay Som represent a new generation of bedroom-pop musicians: introverts who belt out confessional lyrics into their Macbooks while cranking out jumbled guitar melodies. in ear worms. And at first @, the duo of Philadelphia guitarist Victoria Rose and Baltimore musician Stone Filipczak, seems to fall into that camp as well. As artists destined to collaborate but separated by 100 miles of highway, they brainstormed song ideas over iMessage before deciding to join forces—virtually, of course—to record a joint album from their respective bedrooms. But soundwise, their music has an old-school feel rooted in acoustic guitar and rich vocal harmonies, sounding a bit like the ’70s-inspired teens strung out on the Mamas & the Papas. Originally released in 2021 and now reissued by Carpark, @’s debut album, Music from the Mind Palacedelivers a neat half hour of raw folk-pop straight from the heart.
The most striking quality of @’s music is also the most human: their voices. The imperfection of her singing is similar to the exuberant tone of Animal Collective in sung tongs, or the pristine vocal harmonies of girl groups like the Chordettes or the Ronettes if someone slips them a glass of scotch to calm them down. Filipczak enunciates every word and sings with a slight, high-pitched cadence that, in flashes, is reminiscent of John Lennon, giving a song like “Major Blue Empty” the strange air of a Beatles demo. Rose counters with a warm, pure timbre, and the urgency of her delivery resembles bubbling emotions. Compared to her solo work as Brittle Brian, particularly last year biodiesel, she sounds relieved as she makes notes on “Star Game” or “My Garden”. The duo’s vocal harmonies are at once full and delicate, out of tune and in tune, joyous and sad. On the opening “Parapet,” Rose and Filipczak’s evocative vocal harmonies blend with the fluttering piano in a way that perfectly captures the visceral feeling of unrelenting longing.
At a time when most bedroom pop feels tied to the online world, @ is making music that cuts the ethernet cord, no matter what their aliases and origins suggest. Every instrument in Music from the Mind Palace sounds dearly loved by years of playing, giving the album an intimacy akin to the soft sounds of a friend performing a song just for you: the hum of a string vibrating against a fret, the hum of a microphone being turned on, the tingling in the neck when two voices intertwine. That human touch is audible in the sprightly acoustic guitar and soft thumps of the bongos on “Letters,” or the even flute on “First Journal.” Though the influence of cult favorite Vashti Bunyan is audible on the album’s best single, “Friendship Is Frequency,” the duo’s rustic guitar tone and low Irish whistle add their own personal signature.