On their debut EP, Bodywash (the McGill band formerly known as Cult Classic) sticks to a relatively simple synth-pop—or “cream pop,” as the band puts it on their Facebook page—formula. Although it is not a harbinger of anything groundbreaking, it is more than worth checking out for any fan of chilled-out, easy-listening tunes. In what appears to be a diplomatic move, the band has opted to equally showcase the dreamy, cool-bored voices of Chris Steward and Rosie Long Decter, giving them each two songs in which they take the lead. Of Steward’s half, “This Cruel” is the standout; the opening is peppered with delayed guitars, setting a distinct, sonically interesting tone and creating a lush atmosphere for Steward’s pleasant, wistful vocals. As for Long Decter, while “Some Place You Can Leave” is noteworthy for providing a slight departure from the rest of the EP with more of a ‘50s doo-wop beat, “Clothes” is filled with a more earnest yearning and a gentle sultriness on the singer’s part. This blends nicely with Steward’s backing harmonies and the guitar vibrato provided by Steward and second guitarist Adam Macpherson.
Thematically, Bodywash does not venture out of the ordinary and mostly sticks to the tried-and-true topics of budding or fizzling relationships. That being said, the band exhibits a certain kind of dexterity in crafting songs that sound fresh and ready to be played at any late night party worth its salt. “If only you could be this cruel,” croons Steward, coming across as both hopeful and helpless. His grasp on how to effectively articulate romantic woes can be heard in his lyrics on “Nothing At All” and “This Cruel,” while the entire band collaborated on the writing process for “Some Place You Can Leave” and “Clothes.” As far as production and sound mixing go, kudos to all those involved, in and out of the band, for putting out an independently made EP like Bodywash (recorded at McGill’s music studios) without needing to suffer any reduction in sound quality.
All in all, it’s a professional, very listenable (if too “safe”, creatively) start for what is sure to be an up-and-coming band in Montreal’s extensive music scene. For a group that emerged out of the ashes of what was once “that great band at OAP,” they have certainly come a long way, and McGill should be proud to call Bodywash one of its own. They may be struggling to shed their image as a university band, but for now, their unique history with the school only serves to separate them from their competition.