Pop Goes the World: Hyperbubble Drops Unexpected Cover Album Plus a Sneak Preview of Its Upcoming Movie

click to enlarge Pop Goes the World: Hyperbubble Drops Unexpected Cover Album Plus a Sneak Preview of Its Upcoming Movie
Courtesy of Hyperbubble
Long-running synth pop act Hyperbubble is popping off to new a home base in St. Louis, but not before gifting San Antonio with an album of covers and teasing the release of its long-awaited movie Cowgirls & Synthesizers.

In case you hadn’t heard, the duo — composed of husband-wife team Jeff DeCuir and Jessica Barnett DeCuir — are pulling up stakes so they can be closer to Jessica’s aging parents in Missouri. She’s already made the move while Jeff stays behind to tie up loose ends — which apparently includes dropping the new eight-song release Love and Bionics.

Hyperbubble, which launched in the early 2000s, had planned to release the album in a heart-shaped box on Valentine’s Day. However, the pandemic prompted the duo to speed up the release — and offer it as a free download.

“The world needs some positivity right now,” Jessica said. “It’s a way to lift people’s spirits.”

“Now that money’s super-tight, there’s an immediacy to getting it out to people, especially for free,” Jeff added.

Most of the tracks on Love and Bionics have previously appeared on compilation albums, which undoubtedly made it easier to move up the release.
The end result is a three-bean-salad of an album spanning from expected synth pop homages such as Men Without Hats’ “Pop Goes the World” to less-obvious choices including “You’re the One That I Want” from the Grease soundtrack and obscure ’70s folk rocker Paul Parrish’s “Tiny Alice.”

Where Hyperbubble is most successful at the reinterpretations is when they reveal something new about the source material.

For example, the dirgy, almost post-punk spin on Dead or Alive’s 1984 dancefloor favorite “You Spin Me Round” reveals just how creepy its lyrics are (“If I get to know your name, well, I could trace your private number, baby”). And a vocoder-laced retreading of “Jamie’s Cryin’” highlights that for all its machismo and instrumental histrionics, Van Halen was as much a pop act as it was a hard rock band.

While the album was quick to come together, not so for Hyperbubble’s movie project, Cowgirls & Synthesizers — a sort-of documentary chronicling the band’s trek to Nashville to record Western Wear, its 2017 country album.
The film has been in the works for four years and is finally headed to the festival circuit early next year.

Like much of what Hyperbubble does, it blurs the line between fantasy and reality, mixing concert performances and interviews with surrealist comedy and fictional elements.

The first public glimpse of Cowgirls & Synthesizers will come September 1 when the band debuts a video for its version of Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy,” which is excerpted from the film.

“It’s sort of our little goodbye to San Antonio,” said Jeff, who’s now going through the process of licensing songs for the movie’s final release.

The “Rhinestone Cowboy” clip shows San Antonio dancer and performance artist S.T. Shimi in a red cowboy hat and hot pants hula hooping against a backdrop of bubbles while the DeCuirs, decked out in fancy Western duds, perform the song.

With Campbell’s mid-’70s Nashville veneer replaced by a minimalist synth track, the lyrics are inescapable — the story of a veteran singer who’s paid his dues yet keeps hitting the road because he knows one day, he’ll get his big break.

The lyrics could well apply to Hyperbubble, which has self-released a catalogue of more than a dozen albums, toured Europe a few times and amassed a cult following for its winking, self-aware take on synth pop.

“The movie’s got a do-it-yourself message,” Jessica said. “We really want to impress that on younger people: if you’re thinking of starting a band, go do it and see where it takes you.”

As Hyperbubble enters its third decade of performing and recording, there is one line in “Rhinestone Cowboy” that doesn’t fully apply: there hasn’t been a load compromising on the road to the duo’s horizon.

It’s clear Hyperbubble is doing exactly what it wants to do and will keep right on doing it — whether based in SA, St. Louis or elsewhere.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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