After rising to global fame through their YouTube channel, the band Karmin—made up of couple Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan—was signed to record label Epic, released a string of EPs and, finally, debuted their first full-length LP, Pulses. Characterized by a unique image, Heidemann’s seemingly unparalleled rapping style, and Noonan’s solid production, the pair seemed destined for greatness having finally ‘made it’—but Pulses suggests that they still have quite a way to go.
In a whirlwind of songs that is part Nicki Minaj-tailored lyrical flow, part Katy Perry-esque overproduction, and one hundred per cent electronic, Pulses takes listeners on a journey of tireless rapping and intermittent piano ballads. Album single “Acapella” is an electronic-heavy number with odd backing vocals, autotune work, and unenthused lyrics like, “Once upon a time, I met the perfect guy; he had that Colgate smile, he had that suit and tie.” “Night Like This” sees Karmin trying to impersonate One Direction’s musical style with lyrics about “Rocking your body to the beat like this,” and then there’s “Pulses,” a synth-heavy song that sees Karmin comparing a heartbeat and pulse with their undying love for each other—hardly an original theme.
It isn’t until “Neon Love” that Heidemann’s vocal capability becomes apparent—which is a shame, considering she’s clearly refined her talent. But maybe that’s the problem; in taming their sound and production, they’ve forgotten the originality that made Karmin notable in the first place.
Noonan sings on “Pulses” that he’s going to “Make sure that you’re alive,” however, listening to this record will do the opposite; Pulses got Karmin’s large fan base buzzing because of the band’s quirkiness and the mutual appreciation that the band and its fans have for each other, yet on the album, their uniqueness fails to shine through. This album is a little too much of everything—too electronic; too produced; too keen to sound mainstream, and therefore, too plain. On “Neon Love” we hear them sing that “This neon love is destined to die,” and I fear that based on this effort, the Karmin brand might suffer the same fate.