On first listen of fthrsn, pinning a genre to what comes next might be difficult. All sorts of sounds circulate around a wailing voice and chants and it’s all somewhat disorienting, but it works in the context of Macklin Underdown’s endeavor. A Performing Arts Technology major at the University of Michigan, his studies have allowed him to “develop skills in music composition, audio/video production, interactive art, code art, and design.” Macklin makes vocal-based bedroom pop (self-described as “lo-fi” and “feel-good”) with distant & inviting vocals that reach higher notes than you’d expect. You can hear the feel-good vibes often in songs like “My First Love” that bring whistles in to carry melodies as his voice sways with the rhythm of the song.
Stream: fthrsn – What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up
His releases all share themes of loneliness, relationships, coming-of-age, and longing. Some songs can reach out to spacey, twinkling pop combining intricate percussion like “Colors” off his first EP. Others can get a hold of some real emotion like the endearing & devotional closer “Over You” on his most recent release “Middle School Swag“. The song builds in magnitude as it goes – highlighting his talent of adding and removing all the right layers to change the songs direction, yet still piling harmonies of vocals and manipulation to form a distinct, unwavering sound.
Fthrsn shows a range of regional influences across his discography – from oriental sounds of “On Your Way” to the prevailing tropical groove of much of his recordings. A case could be made for a strong Animal Collective influence on an act like fthrsn’s, which blends the same kind of howling you may find from Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) with interesting, but still head-nod worthy, rhythms. Above all else, fthrsn’s voice is what’s raising eyebrows; the dude has range, no doubt.
Since 2011, fthrsn has continued to evolve and master a niche sound that’s all too catchy to be avoided. He’s part of GRL MTN, a collective of Michigan musicians (who released a really great compilation last year), and has plenty of material on Youtube featuring some raw and unbridled performances. Check the video below for his song “Middle School Dance” to get the best glimpse into the fthrsn aesthetic and download all his material at his bandcamp, which you can pay to DL or get for free via alternate links on the bandcamp page.
Stream: fthrsn – Middle School Swag
fthrsn’s Middle School Swag is available now.