The work of Chattanooga electro pop trio Summer Dregs is a balm for those seeking solace in a divided world. Their euphoric brand of synth-based pop music shakes and saunters and immediately holds your attention. Composed of singer Paul Smallman, keyboardist Carl Cadwell and drummer Joshua Caleb Green, the band takes the buoyant synth pop sounds common to the ’80s and reinvents them for 2017. Possessing a rhythmic momentum fueled by a fervent distillation of its inspirations, the music tumbles and rocks in a circular pattern that explores this artificial noise without laying any specific allegiances. The band espouses the wonder of these Technicolor pop progressions with a casual clarity that’ll have you picking your jaw up off the floor.
For the video to recent single “Sheen,” the band indulges in a visual and auditory extravagance, the kind of fluorescent pop whirlwind that leaves you gasping for breath and shaking the spots from your eyes. Known for their ornate and complicated onstage illuminations, they bring that same sense of optical wonder to bear on the sounds in this video. Highlighting both the physical and aural movement inherent to their work, the band creates a vivid, hallucinatory pairing that showcases their knack for ecstatic pop rhythms and corporeal theatricality. It seemed a distant wish that the band would be able to harness the electric energy that they offer onstage, but here, alongside director Tim Cofield, they successfully capture that riveting synth pop virtuosity.
Built around the weightless voice of Smallman and the brilliant keyboard-percussion backdrop that Cadwell and Green create, “Sheen” is a perfect example of how they balance the exuberance of their synth influences with a selection of heady pop arrangements. It’s all so shiny and sparkles with an iridescent hue, but there’s also substance, a pulsating heart that beats in time to each thumping melodic release. They don’t fall for loose sentiment but aim for something loftier and emotionally viable, a mixture of synthetic production and heartfelt enthusiasm that echoes out of the darkest parts of their subconscious.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.