The Bigger Empty - Lakes & Oceans, Vol. 1: Michigan [EP] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Bigger Empty

Lakes & Oceans, Vol. 1: Michigan [EP] (2017)

La Escalera Records

Are you a fan of cute, happy pop punk music? Do you also love a good side project? Well then, The Bigger Empty might be for you.

Smoking Popes’ drummer Mike Felumlee takes a page from his main band’s more recent output. On Lakes & Oceans, Vol. 1: Michigan, the first in a four part EP series, Felumlee applies those chops to less effective results. At first listen, it’s hard to tell exactly how this batch of songs fits into a larger series in any way that justifies the spaced out release. As a standalone, they are catchy enough.

At no point does The Bigger Empty reach for anything exciting or new. Instead they retread in their comfort zone. From the opening of “By Its Own (So What),” the direction of the band is clear. Felumlee’s vocals are not perfect nor do they sound out of place. It is pop punk, after all. But the addition of Amanda Sena on keyboards and co-vocals makes Michigan worth a spin. Her clean keyboards are the first sound you hear and her backup vocals splatter each of the five tracks. “Sleepyhead,” her lone solo song, should stand apart from the rest, but for better or worse, seamlessly blends in.

Vol. 1: Michigan is a short collection of power pop love songs. Weezer is a clear influence. So is 00’s Nerf Herder and, to an extent The Ergs!, constantly longing and loving. But really Felumlee has been doing this so long he knows what a love song is supposed to sound like. While they never feel insincere, there’s hardly anything you haven’t heard somewhere before. There are three more EPs to come. Hopefully one of them is able to give a clearer picture of The Bigger Empty.