Dream pop project from queer Nashville artist Kristen Castro
It's chill, melodic, electronic, and a little bit emo—Kristen Castro's new project Wild Heart Club releases its debut LP on November 12.
Arcade Back in Manitou transports the listener into an ethereal sonic landscape that kicks off with a soulful instrumental and segues into the dream pop title track. Then we take a detour into a synth-driven breakup song, "Unhappy," followed by '80s-esque "Glitter On The Drum," which was inspired by a comment on a Robyn video on YouTube. "Ever You Go" is mellow and lo-fi with Castro's lovely vocals lacing a heartbreaking melody. "Down From The Heavens" releases the pent-up angst about being gay since she was a teenager.
Castro, the creative force behind this dreamy new project, has been making bedroom pop since the age of 10. She's also played in various bands and as a session player on other artists' work for years, and this project marks a maturation of style that is compelling.
With Wild Heart Club, she's blended a lifetime of influences — hip-hop, folk, and even her time spent in metal bands when she was younger — to create a rich and layered world that could be the lovechild of Sigur Rós and the Cocteau Twins, with a dash of ABBA and Fleetwood Mac.
To make these comparisons, however, is a stretch because Castro is somewhat genre-defying, and her queer identity definitely adds another layer to the musical mix. There is a sense that a lifetime of musical influences has been processed and filtered through a broken heart, through lockdown, through isolation, and out the other side into a hopeful, bright and brave new world.
“I’ve always been drawn to people who aren’t in the cool club—the weirdos embracing their weirdness. This is music for them, as always,” she's said of the project, written, recorded, and produced primarily by herself while recovering from a difficult breakup.
“Love is hard enough and then when you add being queer, it’s even harder. One time I played with my ex who used to sing at a church and it was such a bizarre experience watching all the people in the pews sing along to a girl who was in love with me but was also keeping me a secret,” she explains.
“I had this vision of a god wrapped in color walking up to my ex and basically saying fuck it, go and love her, she’s more than a secret.”
Arcade Back In Manitou is a dreamy slice of dream pop indeed. It's out on November 12.