If Bandcamp were an adjective, it’d be used to describe Let’s Get Shiny, the new album by Kim Hart Weldin (who records as Shiny Times). Anyone who is fatigued by ostentatious album roll-outs, hype campaigns, and longwinded descriptions about the artist’s “process” will appreciate the Bandcamp page for this one, which is on an obscure Greek label called Melotron Records and has a couple of misspelled words among its brief information about the songwriting and art. It has a casual, unprofessional charm that is matched by the music itself, which is an ode to the early days of indie pop, laser-focusing on a microscopic audience of Sarah Records appreciators and those like me who love artists like Rose Melberg and Black Tambourine.
In its own simple way, this is a perfect EP, in that it gives those listeners exactly what they’re looking for while also adding some new twists to the formula. I am joking about the presentation of this album, but it’s clear from the songs that Weldin knows what she’s doing — there’s a maturity and self-assuredness in her gentle reverbed guitar riffs, plainly spoken lyrics, and unpretentious dreamy vocal delivery. I think it takes some confidence to make indie pop this simple, that sounds “easy” yet is almost never done this well.
Some of this twee-leaning music can get a bit cutesy, but there’s maturity and depth in Weldin’s songs that make this resonate more than a lot of other c86 imitators. “So Alone” and “Empty Inside” are the kind of lovesick, fuzzy songs that define this style, and the feelings can be applied to either childhood or recent pandemic loneliness. “Scroll Away the Night” updates the formula to the digital age, with social media scrolling replacing the usual staring at the walls or out the window while missing a loved one.
The song I’m most obsessed with is the closer, “Sort it Out,” which starts very quietly then breaks into an addictive riff that repeats for the rest of the song (something I remember Pandora calling “extensive vamping”). Weldin’s words eventually trail off and fade into silence: “I don’t believe what you said/Close my eyes and I hear it again.” The way it’s constructed reminds me of how certain moments linger in your memory, especially if you’re more on the introverted and neurotic side. And like the rest of this album, it’s a simply constructed song that still has complexity in the feelings it gets from the listener.
The intentions of Let’s Get Shiny! are certainly modest, which in and of itself is kind of refreshing. Underlying all the songs is the feeling of hearing someone make music because they love it or need to do it, since this is so clearly an endeavor that wouldn’t result in critical hype or money. And in terms of achieving what it sets out to do, this is quietly one of the most successful releases of the year.