Over the past decade, the term “indie pop” has come to be associated with a certain sound and rhythm built around strummed guitars minus effects, artless vocals and songs that are personal without being revealing. This sound was born in living rooms and developed in small clubs, not recording studios, but what was once the child of necessity is now the mother of invention.
New York’s Burnside Project, which is mainly singer-songwriter Richard Jankovich and producer/instrumentalist Gerald Hammill, displays all the recognizable touchstones of indie pop. Jankovich’s voice is almost declamatory in its dreamy introversion, the melodies are guitar-driven, the rhythms steady and mid-tempo. But the group’s debut album, “The Networks, the Circuits, the Streams, the Harmonies,” is put together as a dance record; or, more specifically, as an IDM (intelligent dance music) record. The guitars weave their way in and out of computer-generated glitch noises and programmed beats that are more than just textural background. They form the songs’ real emotional foundation, since Jankovich sounds so detached and the “real” instruments are mostly used for color. Shannon McArdle of the Mendoza Line provides the one-verse vocal for “Only Ordinary,” and her characteristically little-girl-singing-in-the-shower voice contrasts thrillingly with the infectious hip-hop bouncing around her. Burnside Project doesn’t sound like the kind of band who’d insist you get up and dance, but they make it difficult not to.