Bachelor is a new collaboration from two of indie's most expressive and acclaimed songwriters of recent years: Melina Duterte of Jay Som and Ellen Kempner of Palehound. Fans could likely already see that this was a match made in heaven. After all, there's something special about collaborative projects. The meeting of diverse creative instincts can bring out newfound angles to an artist's music and push stylistic boundaries in unexpected directions.
Make no mistake, Doomin' Sun has plenty of romantic enticement to it -- the group's name bears similarity to the hit dating show after all -- but in listening to the project, it's clear that Bachelor is no simple, frivolous duo. Their music touches on not just love and lust, but pain and psychedelia, an innate need to adore and adulate, right up to the edge of destruction. The album's opener makes this clear: "Back of My Hand" is an exploratory look at the life of the obsessive fan of a singer, who has posters of them on her walls and is willing to get concert tickets in "the nosebleeds screaming every word.
Palehound's Ellen Kempner and Jay Som's Melina Duterte were already big fans of each other before meeting backstage at a Sacramento show in 2017. As two of indie rock's brightest rising stars, their paths were fated to cross, and serendipitously, that first encounter was also the spark that lit the fire in their platonic love story. As their budding friendship grew, as did their inevitable professional relationship -- out of which Bachelor, their new supergroup, was born.
Pre-pandemic 2020 found the pair descending on a California Airbnb, officially cohabitating for two weeks to write and record their debut album, Doomin' Sun.
Last year, on a lark, I picked up Amy Kaufman's book Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America's Favorite Guilty Pleasure. I came away convinced that everyone involved in the long-running reality television franchise ought to be tried for crimes against humanity. Jay Som's Melina Duterte loves the show; Palehound's Ellen Kempner is baffled by it.