Friends Melina Duterte (AKA Jay Som) and Ellen Kempner from the band Palehound make up the indie rock superduo Bachelor. Doomin’ Sun is the pair’s first full-length album and, as its title suggests, includes a mix of deeply confessional, moody ballads and brightly adrenalized moments. Recorded in just two weeks in January of 2020, the record was shelved for nearly a year and a half due to the pandemic only to emerge as the most uncharacteristic consequence of a project whose moniker was inspired in-part by the hit American reality TV series of the same name.
Jesus Christ, the drums that kick off Doomin’ Sun’s opener, “Back of My Hand”, are so damn crisp and realistic you’ll feel as if they’re being played in front of you. “I want your lies, I need your secret, will you be mine? I want to know you like the back of my hand,” Kempner sings in a tone befitting the most mockingly sycophantic boy band idolatry. The song’s lyrics cleverly shine a sarcastic, unflattering light on fandom and the unrealistic expectations surreptitiously brought upon by the paparazzi journalism that follows the hype machine’s latest fascination. The record’s upbeat start is starkly contrasted by its successor, the gloomingly mopey “Sand Angel”. The song makes for an odd sequential choice as it plods along with a lackadaisical lead guitar and lyrics about a feverish dream of seemingly unrequited love.
Bachelor’s unabashed Pixies homage, “Stay In the Car”, shows up in the coveted third song slot and is both appropriately placed and timed due to it being the record’s best and most memorable moment. Duterte and Kempner harmonize beautifully as a Joey Santiago-like guitar line cuts through each time the chorus is pounded out. Alas Doomin’ Sun’s final standout moment arrives at the beginning of side B in the form of “Anything at All”. Here, Duterte lays down a slick bassline before synths enter to create a fine groove, the lyrics horrifically analogizing a bedroom encounter to a fly caught in a vicious spider’s web.
The jangly, oddly Polynesian-sounding “Sick of Spiraling” starts with a strummed acoustic guitar and lyrics detailing the evolution of a romantic relationship during an often harrowing road trip. While the song works well initially, it is ultimately derailed by an uncharacteristically bluesy guitar solo just before the three-minute mark. Doomin’ Sun reaches its end with the album’s title track, a lovingly plucked acoustic ballad accentuated nicely with a swelling string section. The entire affair concludes with the bittersweet lines, “… we’ve got time and you’re holding me, end of the Earth will set it free.”
That an album recorded in just two weeks by the figureheads of distinctly different bands would sound so disjointed song-to-song is understandable. While there are certainly a few excellent tracks here, Doomin’ Sun would have made for a more cohesive listening experience from beginning to end if Kempner and Duterte had included a few numbers that fell somewhere between the record’s highest highs and lowest lows in terms of tempo and mood. Instead, Bachelor’s first album is a collection of ten songs that swing unevenly between extremes from one moment to the next.