In Review: Bachelor - Doomin' Sun

After years of being each other’s fans from afar and eventually friends, Jay Som’s Melina Duterte and Palehound’s Ellen Kempner have finally combined their skills to form Bachelor — soon set to release their debut album 'Doomin’ Sun'. Duterte and Kempner’s pairing is as charming as it is powerful. As excellent songwriters in their own right, this album is a dazzling showcase of two virtuosic minds in unity — which came to exist after the pair spent just two weeks writing at a rental house in Topanga, California in January 2020.

'Doomin’ Sun' is a gentle giant, with the already released tracks (‘Stay In The Car’, ‘Anything At All’ and ‘Sick of Spiralling’) giving a flavour of the duo’s collective writing expertise, the remainder of the album grounds this in moody rhythms and humble excellence. As a whole, it serves up rustic and earthy rawness, set against a 90s-fused, sleepy rock backdrop.

Thrown atop a punchy beat, the opener features an irresistible groove. This is ‘Back of My Hand’ — a fierce but sunny track with ragged harmonies and astute lyricism. ‘Sand Angel’ is an exercise in catharsis, with its sleepy and melancholic harmonies drifting between a mellow riff. This is before ‘Stay in the Car’ shifts the mood to visceral admiration. Of the soft grungy track, Kempner says, “I wrote the lyrics… back in December of 2019 when I was in Florida for my partner’s top surgery. I had run out one afternoon, post op, while he was healing to grab lunch for us and as I was gathering my stuff in the parking lot, a big car pulled up and this absolutely beautiful woman got out. She was dressed all in red, dripping with jewelry and had the most wild fiery mane I’d ever seen. She was yelling at the man behind the wheel asking him what he wanted from the store and I wished I was that man... I was completely mesmerized.”

‘Went Out Without You’ returns us to the gloomy, cathartic tone set out prior, featuring earthy guitars and meek, haunting layers of falsetto. The pair share a magnetic energy, and ‘Spin Out’s hypnotic allure flaunts this in its swirling synths, reverb-soaked guitar and delicate vocals. Take a moment to relish in the outro — where tuneful strumming brings calm to the chaos that preceded it.

‘Anything At all’ is fun and funky in its janky bass melodies and engrossing production. It’s dark, and then joyful; journeying between a myriad of moods and creating a truly compelling piece of music in the process. Themes of romance flicker on the surface of the dazy ‘Moon’ until its synthy, sleepy goodness simmers down ready to introduce ‘Sick of Spiralling’. The twangy guitar leadlines echo of the Californian sunscape: steady, warm and intentionally imperfect. Nearing the end of 'Doomin’ Sun's luscious melodies, ‘Aurora’ leaves behind a taste of piano-led introspection, before the closing titular track takes hold. Undeniably folky to begin, but reinvented with tape-distorted harmonies and wailing strings.

The album plays out like a piece of cinema — its plot littered with groovy peaks and vulnerable, melancholic troughs. The lyricism is articulate and set among acclaim-worthy instrumentals. It feels as though Duterte and Kempner’s skills were built for music like this.