Toronto pop outfit Bernice shared their new single “It’s Me, Robin” through NPR’s All Songs Considered podcast, compiled by Bob Boilen. It’s the second single from their upcoming album Eau de Bonjourno, due March 5 on Telephone Explosion. The first was “Groove Elation,” in December 2020.
It’s a chill song with an idiosyncratic vocal pattern, electronic piano and plenty of sound effects in the percussion track. The second half is notably new age-inspired, as the quirky rhythm track falls away and sax, piano, quiet bass and synth pads take over. Bernice asks the repeated question, “Who are you?”
Bernice frontwoman Robin Dann explained what the lyrics mean to Boilen, “This song for me, lyrically, was an exercise in trying to be as blunt and transparent as possible with myself. It starts out in a non-poetic way: ‘it’s me, Robin. you don’t really know me. I thought if I just expressed this you might let me be me’ – which I think is a universal desire. We all just kind of want to feel permission to exist, unconditionally, not based on any career milestones or whatever personal successes or failures. We want every life to inherently have value. This song, in a really playful way, (referencing ducks and potatoes) addresses the not-so-straightforward feelings that we have in life, but ultimately asks the big question, who are you? We’re all just in this beautiful, endless search for joy.”
The video is playful, superimposing Dann and the other band members dancing into seemingly random collage settings, all floating inside some pink bubbles. The quirky aesthetic pulls together bizarre scenes like Cheerios coming out of a cracked iPhone’s charging port and a mantis hanging out inside the body of a violin.
Like the video, Eau de Bonjourno is full of songs intended to be collages in themselves, best demonstrated by the cut-up sound effects and use of musique concrète techniques in the percussion for both “It’s Me, Robin” and “Groove Elation.” The idea was for it to be an album that “openly plays with the shape of a pop song” and uses the band’s background as jazz musicians to create something totally different. It was produced by veteran multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily.