By Sophia McDonald
Floating on the cosmic dream that is queer pop, the modern music landscape is being influenced by the best in the LGBTQ+ community. The Irish scene is hot on the heels of the best trend to happen to music in years, with the likes of Babylamb, Jack Rua, and PureGrand producing lush pop.
St. Bishop is no different. Playing with an electronic sound and an indie feel, his tracks emulate recent Sam Smith with hints of Dermot Kennedy and Troye Sivan sprinkled in. With bouncing rhythms and infectious melodies, the Close EP solidifies St. Bishop’s place amongst his Irish peers. Exploring love and positivity around a person’s identity, there are no bittersweet moments of realisation. Instead, St. Bishop documents the loving and longing that goes hand in hand with the struggles of growing up queer.
Opener “Close” speaks to the push and pull of having mixed emotions. It acts as a poppy aperitif to the EP. The production is layered, being stripped back to the piano base during the bridge. The transitions back to the fuller sound, complete with electronic effects, do feel rushed. These minor faults are outweighed by St Bishop’s success at crafting his unique sound, but less is sometimes better.
This is true in the instance of the stripped back version of “Dreaming,” which finishes out the EP. Rather than a completely acoustic rework of the track, St. Bishop pairs a gorgeously simple piano with guitar. Slipping in muted violins and bass, “Dreaming” is transformed into a wonderfully tender track.
Piano and synth-infused “Sleep It Off” showcases St Bishop’s vocal range, a highlight being the harmonised bridge. The annoyance of an overactive brain is put to an upbeat melody, capturing the doubt of yesterday’s failed attempts and the anticipation of a fresh start in the morning.
“Porcelain” is a slow dance track, perfect for getting closer to that crush of yours. A more contained track compared to the EP’s pop-fuelled first half, time slips away like sand between St. Bishop’s fingers and the song bursts with yearning. Whistling synths end the track on a sensuous note and strengthen the EP’s themes of queer youth and love as a whole.
Moving from “Porcelain” to “Good Intentions’” the teething problem of transitioning and pacing crops up again, but once ”Good Intentions” begins to flow, it is easily forgivable. It builds from gentle vocals to a chorus pulsating with lovelorn emotion. Underscored with explosive bass and sharper synths, all the frustration that comes with explaining to others your journey -– one that you know is right – comes to the surface. St. Bishop’s ability to build from soft to intense is also seen in “Dreaming” and serves as a defining feature of the Close EP, definitely adding to the peaks and troughs of this introduction.
Although a little rough around the edges, the six track Close EP acts as a terrific introduction to a star in the making. St. Bishop shows off his talents through songs that highlight his impressive vocal range and ability to balance features of rhythmic electronic and powerful indie pop. The EP is a perfect match for Gen Z’s affinity to love, yearn, and dance about all the sweethearts of our lives.
Listen to Close below.