A self-described “DIY compulsion”, Written In My Head from My Bedroom weaves catchy melodies in and out of layered sound effects. The China Blue’s debut EP uses wide ranging dynamics to blend elements of pop, synth, techno and ambient genres.
The China Blue’s Written In My Head, From My Bedroom is a cohesive, fresh release that delivers on the idea that an EP can be more than just a collection of songs. A consistent thread of electronic sound effects, heartbreak themes, and catchy melodies that are angsty yet upbeat runs through Written In My Head. Each piece in the collection has its own flavor born out of the bedroom and brain of nineteen-year-old Seth Marques.
The first track, “To Tokyo,” gives us dreamy moments over positive major chords in a quick one minute and 48 seconds. Like a walk that turns into a jog before breaking into a full run, there is an undeniable build through the verse to the chorus; then the song is over before a second verse can begin. Written In My Head features both instrumental and lyrical songs with a bouncy, hard-hitting bass and fun, electronic sound effects. The most surprising part about the polished, haunting vocals on this release is how The China Blue “took up singing kind of out of necessity. [He] felt like [he] needed to tell [his] own stories.”
Written in My Head is dynamic, literally and in terms of its appeal. As Marques tells us, by “mixing synth elements with hip hop sounds and finding ways to blend genres,” the songs are both melodically driven and ambient. The EP is interesting and can be the centerpiece of your listening experience, but is also unobtrusive to become a comfortable part of a larger soundscape. It’s a work that cannot be neatly categorized, since The China Blue focused more on “giving the track the atmosphere it calls for before worrying about what genre.”
The China Blue takes inspiration from 80s artists like Phil Collins, Tears for Fears, The Police and artists of today like The Japanese House, Gorillaz, The Weeknd and Passion Pit. When listening to his music, you can also hear elements of instrumental electronica, similar to the Disco Biscuits, tinny pop-synth reminiscent of Passion Pit, and keyboard sound and vocal effects à la Phil Collins. There is a beautiful tension between the longing in his voice and lyrics, similar to what we’ve heard from The Weeknd and The Chainsmokers. Songs titles alluding to the end of a relationship “Alone,” “Next to Me,” and “Fold,” express sadness without being swallowed up by it. “Time” gives us the feeling of betrayal from someone who promised you that they’d stay in touch: all of the honesty / that you promised me / I know / you must be joking / cause we’ve not spoken.
The dancey bass line on the EP’s final song, “Lie,” offers a reminder that although it might not be fun or gratifying to self reflect, doing so can certainly make for captivating art: “what is this feeling … / it’s not appealing / to have to sit and look within / if I don’t need it.” Similar music can fall flat because of this all-electronic sound—which sometimes leaves the sound empty and dull. Luckily, “Lie” weaves catchy melodies in and out of layers of sound effects, percussive elements, and wide-ranging dynamics to keep it interesting.