It’d be misleading to call Calpurnia a prominent band, but even at this stage, they’ve been on the receiving end of attention that most bands on their debut EP would kill for. A big part of that may be due to the precocious nature of their members, all of whom are between fifteen and seventeen years old, but perhaps a more significant factor is that this is band of Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard.
And immediately, that could be subject to a hefty deal of skepticism; after all, would they be in this position if this was just any other band starting off by playing Weezer and Twin Peaks covers? Probably not, but that’s not to say that Calpurnia are devoid of musical merit. Quite the opposite actually, as Scout shows, twenty-odd minutes of lo-fi, shaggy indie-rock that definitely needs rounding out, but displays promise all the same. There’s a classic rock influence to tracks like Wasting Time and City Boy that gels remarkably well with the rougher indie-rock sound, and it’s this more understated presentation that’s arguably Calpurnia’s biggest strength. They’re not reliant on flash or residual star power, but simply a decent melodic instinct that they’ve already got a solid grasp on; the characteristics of a much more established act are already there.
That’s not to say there’s nothing that can be done to improve though, because there most definitely is. For one, while the production carries the hallmarks of ‘90s lo-fi that the band clearly idolise, a song like Louie takes it a bit too far, particularly when viewed alongside Wolfhard’s nasal bray that actively feels like it’s trying to emulate just how pretentious this sort of sound can be. It’s an EP that could do with tightening up overall, as right now it all feels a bit too loose without coming together for anything truly substantial, the pinnacle of which is the seven-minute closer Waves, co-opting psychedelic tones and textures to ebb and flow along without reaching any real end point.
It’s definitely indicative of a band who still need to do a lot of work before they really end up anywhere, but Calpurnia are at least forging their own path and doing so independently of the micromanaging that typically comes with these sorts of celebrity projects. As of now, this probably isn’t going to surpass Wolfhard’s acting as his primary vocation (particularly as his star only keeps rising in that field), but for something to fill some downtime, Scout might still be worth building off.
For fans of: Twin Peaks, SWMRS, Kyle Craft
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Scout’ by Calpurnia is out now on Royal Mountain Records.