Russo is your new favorite summer fling that actually sticks. The four-piece band, based and formed in Los Angeles in 2018, released a debut EP earlier this summer, aptly titled House With A Pool. Initially a solo act headed by vivacious frontwoman, model and bona fide cool girl Cailin Russo, the band also features Tyler McCarthy on guitar, Hayley Brownell on drums and backing vocals, and Sean Ritchie on bass.
House With A Pool introduces Russo’s signature sound, which is very much influenced and informed by the music of the 80s and 90s, as well as rock in general (thanks to Cailin’s father, who is also musically inclined), but is also fresh and apt for the times with lyrics and beats relatable to today's culture. The quartet successfully takes a bunch of varied genres and influences and churns out something that is altogether unique and innovative. With bass-heavy riffs and Cailin’s chill vocals, Russo references a Californian, pop-punk, ska sound; many have even lauded the band as our generation’s No Doubt due the frontwoman’s spunky, fun vibe highly reminiscent of Gwen Stefani. As indicated by their catalogue of songs, their artsy music videos, and energetic live performances, the band has a lot of fun, and invites the listener to do so as well.
The EP kicks off with “Pizza,” an intro less than twenty seconds long that sets the confident, casual tone for the record with a declaration of "Just eating my pizza/ Doing my thing.” It leads right into my personal favorite on the EP, “Lonely,” which features an amazing bassline while Cailin’s soulful voice reverberates during the chorus and comes through in wicked cool screams throughout the track. Russo’s music videos, with “Lonely” posing as no exception, capture how the band evokes the past but stays fresh with the times, featuring vintage filters and effects akin to apps like Huji and VHS Cam used to capture throwback feels on the ‘gram.
The next song on the EP is “Ghost,” which features a slower groove and sultry vocals. “Ghost," perhaps the ultimate anthem of summer flings, features Cailin crooning “I miss the mess we used to be,” and the music video, directed by Hamish Stephenson, is a mashup of performances and footage of the band goofing off. Regardless of the vintage vibes, Russo reminds us that they’re aptly set in the present with lyrics like “So if you’re gone, then fade/ But if you’re in it, let me know” that evoke memories of ghosting summer flings and noncommittal lovers long gone.
“Loudmouth” picks up the tempo of the EP with an intro featuring a cool distorted riff that turns into a disco groove as the frontwoman declares, “Stomp my feet while I clap my hands, I wanna dance with a disco man.” The music video, directed by Toronto-based collective, Kid Studio, gives off major Blondie vibes before transitioning into a bloody goth disco visual experience. “Loudmouth” is fun and catchy, and you can’t help but to dance along.
House With A Pool then transitions into "Apeshit," a slower, diffused interlude representative of a waiting period as Cailin sings “I’m about to go apeshit if you don’t get back to me” and McCarthy finishes out the track with a guitar solo. Next, “Bad Things” gets right back into the carefree, fun rhythm of the EP with a synth intro as the lyrics invite you to “saddle up.” The track shows off Cailin’s incredible vocal range and is arguably one of the sexiest songs on the record, with the frontwoman singing, “I get what I want, I want what I see/ I wanna do bad things with you.”
The EP closes off with a mellow, jazz-inspired vibe with “Joyride,” kind of like riding out the very last moments of summer. The chorus is especially reminiscent of electropop favorites like Thievery Corporation, and as a whole, the track is a little more grounded and sensitive than the EP's other songs while still maintaining the light, airy, summery feel of House With A Pool.
If their debut EP is any indication, Russo is clearly set to do huge things, engaging audiences of different tastes and generations with their versatile, yet individual, sound. Thus far, they’ve already played notable venues and festivals throughout the U.S. and United Kingdom., such as School Night in L.A. and Leeds Festival in the U.K., and have also supported both Jessie Ware and Madison Beer on tour. Follow along on their Instagram to stay updated on the band's announcements, and be sure to catch them at their upcoming October 10th show at The Echo in Los Angeles — you won't want to miss out on this fun!
By Pauline Pechakjian