It’s still early, but Young Ejecta (formerly Ejecta) may be the victims of the most unfortunate name change of the year. In an era when “Young” YouTube hip-hop artists have made the word almost unfashionably popular, it seems an odd and ill-fitting moniker for this act. Fortunately, it’s only the name that’s been transformed – not the music – and The Planet is the same kind of melancholy synth-pop that caught our attention on the group’s first album.
Ejecta was formed as a collaboration between Leanne Macomber and Joel Ford, with Macomber playing the role of the duo’s alien frontwoman. She is new to Earth, confused and entranced, a “Stranger in a Strange Land,” who is always presented completely nude. It would be easy to peg that last bit as a publicity stunt, but it’s important to remember both the Heinlein literary allusions and the separation between artist and character at work here. Macomber uses nakedness the way some artists use masks; to create a persona. It’s as much about hiding as it is about exposing.
Ford, for his part, creates a musical backdrop that’s dreamy without verging much into the avant-garde. The Planet is mostly built on the tried and true verse-chorus-repeat formula, fleshed out by electronic instrumentals that barely attempt to imitate their real-world counterparts. There is a pervasive feeling of “this can’t be real,” which meshes strangely with Macomber’s vocals. She is intentionally vague and personal at the same time, singing in voices less altered than on the group’s previous effort, 2013’s Dominae.
Anyone with a soft spot for sci-fi kitsch and picture-perfect pop songs will find six songs of fresh material in The Planet. On the beautifully simple “Welcome to Love,” every note is in its right place, cheerfully playing against lyrics that seem to reminisce on nice things lost. Macomber often seems to be singing from a diary, giving a sublime personal touch to music built around a fictional character. “Recluse” brings out a sense of malaise in its somber melody. In their more upbeat moments, like the plastic disco “Your Planet,” Macomber and Ford prove that they can play through every shade of the emotional spectrum. The Planet is a solid EP from a genuinely interesting act, and hopefully a taste of more to come.