Arts, Music, Review

ROLE MODEL Cranks out Pop Hits on New EP

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

With his new EP our little angel, Tucker Pillsbury, better known by his stage name ROLE MODEL, has delivered yet another collection of bedroom pop hits with simple yet catchy chord progressions and production, supplemented by lyrics that are much deeper and introspective than they first suggest. 

This newest release is ROLE MODEL’s third EP, and it follows the release of oh, how perfect from nearly a year ago. Pillsbury takes on much of the same themes that he did in his last project, but this time, he seems to have a much more accepting tone while delivering lyrics with cheap rhymes and easy flowing melodies.

The first song on our little angel, “alive,” showcases a different sound than fans of ROLE MODEL are used to. The first element that sticks out about the song is the children’s chorus, which appears in the intro and after the second chorus, marking new sonic territory for Pillsbury. He also experiments with a slide guitar throughout the song in addition to a lone acoustic guitar, which gives this track a distinct pop-country type feel. Lyrically, this song finds ROLE MODEL “feel[ing] alive for the first time in a long time,” which marks a change from oh, how perfect’s downcast tone. 

The first single released off this EP, “for the people in the back,” echoes the sentiment of “alive” and is an ode to being independent. ROLE MODEL delivers the verses almost as a rap, and it summarizes the song’s entire message in just two lines in the chorus: “I don’t need / No, no, nobody.” In the first verse he sings, “Funny how some people change up when you change out / Same girls who used to hang up, tryna hang out / If you thought that we would make up, you gon’ break down.” 

This theme of not only acceptance, but confidence, is a common one that runs throughout our little angel. The same synth chord progression repeats throughout the song but is anything but boring because of the simple, layered production—ROLE MODEL’s hallmark. 

The second single, “blind,” describes ROLE MODEL falling for a girl. He exclaims in the chorus, “I’ve never seen something quite like you / I try to look away, but something’s in the way / I think I’m going blind, I hope it doesn’t change.” This synth, bass, and beat-heavy love song represents a bit of a lyrical deviation for Pillsbury, as he rarely writes straightforward love songs. More often than not, he details some sort of hang-up in the relationship in his songwriting. While it isn’t clear if he is in an actual relationship yet, it’s clear that he has yet to encounter any obstacles.

Immediately following “blind” is “doyouseeit,” an extension of the relationship depicted in “blind.” On this track, ROLE MODEL asks his love interest if she sees the future of their love like he does. He “fantasize[s] quite a bit,” saying “I can see us in a nice house, bigger than the White House, baby.” Sonically, ROLE MODEL spotlights synths and trap-inspired beats on this track. This creates a sentimental sound, as though he is personally taking the audience on a tour of all of the fantasies that he creates in his mind about his relationship.

The last single on this six-track EP, “going out,” is an anthem for homebodies everywhere. Pillsbury uses a looped, three-chord synth for most of the song, accompanied by his trademark beats, breathing energy back into the project after the slower pace of “doyouseeit.” ROLE MODEL’s confidence is on full display on this track, as he proclaims, “Don’t hit me if you’re goin’ out / I can barely leave the house.” At this point on the EP, ROLE MODEL has undoubtedly hit his stride and is confident in his decision to stay home. But it also seems as though this song could be addressed to the love interest mentioned in “blind” and “doyouseeit.” ROLE MODEL doesn’t want to deal with the clubs and “DJs that replay every song.” He’d rather wait for his love to come find him when she’s done with “all the other boys” and her busy social life.

The final song on the EP is the most cynical of the six tracks from our little angel. On “better the first time,” Pillsbury explains how he feels that “Love drives by, comes too quick, and then it dies / It’s always better the first time.” This track, which features bass and synths and recalls some of ROLE MODEL’s more pessimistic love songs, seems to be the culmination of the brief relationship that he has explored on his newest EP. But unlike his previous releases, “better the first time” and our little angel as a whole both have an air of acceptance and leave the audience feeling not downcast, but hopeful for love.

Featured image courtesy of Interscope

October 25, 2020