OKC indie foursome prepares delectable rooftop pop from doublespeak winks on first single
It takes a self-assured band to wear a meek moniker well. Though its name may conjure lousy lo-fi meanderings, Poor Sap is chiefly the opposite, with a trove of seasoned musicianship and pop/rock structure expertise at its disposal to create infectious songs with more bite than, well, bark.
Sap puns aside, it’s the first half of the band’s ironic twist of a name that recalls another “Poor.” When Benjamin Franklin created the highly influential Poor Richard‘s Almanack, it was under the guise of a meek moniker, too, adopting an approachable characterization to sneak bits of satire and wisdom to the general public. While Poor Sap most likely holds different political and socioeconomic values nearly 300 years later, this happenstance similarity in unsuspecting cleverness is noteworthy. This band knows exactly what it’s doing.
It’s not hard to see why, as the group is comprised of four stellar musicians with remarkable track records in their own right. Singer-songwriter Hannah Helbig has become the indie scene’s go-to harpist and has some farmer’s market live recordings produced by experimental sound artist Sam Regan that are secretly some of the best ambient vibes of the past few years. Guitarist Alex Larrea‘s past projects include boisterous mid-2010’s buzz band DEERPEOPLE and underground, pajama-wearing, rap-funk foul mouths Bed People. Bassist Derek Moore seems to be in a dozen projects at any given time, including his newfound solo/collaborative work as DRMCRSHR, which had a blog premiere earlier this year. Rounding out the crew is drummer Brack Cantrell, a prolific Dentonite who recently moved to Oklahoma and contributes studio work as well.
Poor Sap made its proper debut last month with its new single, “Sendin’ All My Love”, and you can listen to it below.
In a matter of seconds, its sugar pop opening introduces the players with a splash of crisp harp, juicy bass, simmering synths, and chipper drums. Posh lead vocals then drift in with a brilliantly loaded pair of words, “resolutely bored,” which are quickly curtailed into story and set dressing to service the arc of the song. That phrase, though, is so exemplary of the band’s playful balance of first impressions and second takes that it makes a fine lyrical introduction to Poor Sap.
It’s the catchy chorus that is more likely to linger on new ears for its combination hamstring stretching and bloodletting, but themes of generational and religious tension await those who venture into the verses to decode those metaphors. Here, the “love” immortalized in the song’s title is proven to be fickle and conditional, bringing out notes of sarcasm in the title line of the song, sarcasm at which the electric guitar only hints.
Similarly, the cover art for “Sendin’ All My Love” carries layers of meaning. The postcard design immediately feels like a greeting card to introduce the band, complete with scissortail and bison to signify its Oklahoma roots. With this presentation, though, comes a sixth sense of kitsch and betrayal. The mass-produced insincerity of destination postcards echo the title’s wish-you-were-here stock phrasing, and as a final touch, the “love” in question is the only word to be clouded over. Hometown pride and friendliness coexist with an undercurrent of doubt, and for a place that proclaims a state-wide standard of community help, it may be one of the best portrayals of low-key hypocrisy in recent memory.
For all of its hidden twists, “Sendin’ All My Love” is a delicious listen; to quote the song, it’s “sweet as lemon sugar.” Naturally, though, there’s bound to be some citrus tart in the mix.
aka Jarvix, the Chief Executive Weirdo of Make Oklahoma Weirder. His out-of-the-box music coverage has been published by the Oklahoma Gazette, KOSU, and The Oklahoman among others. He also makes DIY music as a solo multi-instrumentalist live looper in his spare time.