Water isn't only in the Shreveport band's name; it's in the concept.
Instead of going through the usual new band struggle of defining their sound, the members of Super Water Sympathy made up their own genre: water pop.
"It's something that we came up with because we always had a really hard time explaining to people what type of music we were," says lead vocalist Ansley Hughes. Hughes and the rest of Super Water Sympathy will show just what water pop is at The House of Blues' Parish this Saturday.
Even though the Shreveport band constructed water pop to avoid long-winded explanations about their own sound, the label opens the door to more questions. Hughes explains that the genre represents simpler elements of their style: "poppy sound" and "liquid fluidity."
Those elements are quickly noticeable on Super Water Sympathy's albums. On their latest, Hydrogen Child, twinkly guitars lay the foundation for most of the tracks, often building to blissful pop climaxes. That layer works best when it acts as support for Hughes' powerhouse vocals. Her smooth delivery grows tastefully in power and presence over the course of a song, and her voice sprawls over each track with impeccable vibrato. "Liquid fluidity" is certainly apt when it comes to Hughes' raw power.
Hughes' theatrical voice is surprising, but it's something she developed while attending college to study theater. It was then Super Water Sympathy began recording its debut album Vesper Belle, a process Hughes says was difficult because she didn't live in Shreveport at the time. Water was a theme even then, though it was more accidental. Hughes attributes it to guitarist Clyde Hargrove's fascination with ancient civilizations whose mythology emphasized the value of water.
Hughes says water also plays into some dark themes on Hydrogen Child, but it's less obvious on a concept album that explores the ideas of love and loss. "It's a lot about birth and death, and what goes on after that, and what goes on in between that," she says. Despite that description, Hydrogen Child sounds anything but grim. With song titles such as "Anthem" and "Fire Me Up," it's clear Super Water Sympathy doesn't want to weigh anyone down with heavy thoughts.
When Hughes counts off variations on how "water" manifests in the group's music, some associations sound like stretches. Still, it's clear that Super Water Sympathy aren't clinging to water pop as a kitschy branding technique. Water is "pretty" to think about, Hughes says, but it's also powerful and moving. For Super Water Sympathy, water is a reminder of the lightness and darkness they write and sing about. "It gives life, and it takes life away," Hughes says, maintaining her peppy demeanor while discussing dark themes. Not unlike Super Water Sympathy's water pop.