“Dorm Room POP!” UConn’s spring serenade

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“Dorm Room POP!” is a musical project by Elizabeth He, an eighth-semester molecular and cell biology major, and Andre Mastrandrea, an eighth-semester music composition major, respectively known as etoilebleuexh and Ambroggio. Released on March 25, 2022, the album was conceptualized and produced over the course of a year as a musical dedication to UConn and some of its most beloved locations. 

The album, which uses the musical motif of ocean waves, ebbs and flows through genres effortlessly. The introductory “meet me on the sea” places the listener right in the Jorgensen theatre with its orchestral and symphonic sound. There’s a duality present in the piece, with sad violins and ruminating horns dominating the first half; whimsical Mozart-like flutes and synths wander playfully through the soundscape in the second half.  

“Marshmallow Daydream” showcases He’s soothing vocals and bedroom pop-style production. The Clairo vibe is strong with this one. Lo-fi piano, a deep bass and crisp 808s transform this piece into a catchy earworm that envelopes you in the vibes of a sunny day on Horsebarn Hill. This track just drips with nostalgia, as she humorously interjects, “I’m a cow, I’m a cow, ice cream, ice cream, yeah.” That Doja Cat reference doesn’t slip by anyone. This sonic dedication to the Dairy Bar is easily the poppiest track on this record.  

That track isn’t the only one with lo-fi production. “s t u d y  b r e a k” steps up the game with choppy samples and looping techniques, which sound straight off a DJ Shadow joint. It creates a relaxed ambient soundscape with its glitchy vocals and dry drums, an entirely appropriate atmosphere for a study break. The track also functions as a hype piece, where the second half takes on the setting of a basketball game.  

The hype piece leads straight into “RACKITUP,” featuring Mastrandrea rapping about the student hustle. “Rack it up, rack it up, count it up, I’ll be signing these checks.” The tribute to SOOP DOOP at the beginning of the track is appreciated. However, the loops of the horns and bass wear thin. While the lyrics are clearly playful, the distorted beats and Mastrandrea’s aggressive rapping style lose their charm and become more annoying than funny.  

“Where did you go, idk” is a huge throwback to the 80s. The electronic synths give off a summer vibe as He muses about time and love in this dedication to city pop. As the reverb-y vocals build this ethereal and funky track up, “summit”, which is later down the track list, is a completely different vibe. The track aptly serves as a tribute to the now-inaccessible location, which was on top of Gant and offered a splendid view of UConn. Impressive panning techniques are used to create an immersive soundscape as the mystical piano sweeps through both ears. The deep and growling bass amplifies the almost industrial-like drums. I think this track really showcases the variety of sounds that the artists use on the record.  

As the album inches closer to the end of the 8-track list, “lac de miroirs” is an awesome homage to the impressionist era of music with artists like Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy. The quickly descending and ascending piano feels like the ripples of a lake. This piece is clearly divided into two movements, with He’s vocals shining in the second half. At the end, more and more instruments pile on onto a chilling crescendo as her vocals fade out.  

The last track on the album “avery point (Ode to Barbara)” is a fitting end to the record. Here, Mastrandrea’s folksy writing shines. It starts with a plucky guitar as the sounds of waves and seagulls pay tribute to Avery Point, which according to an interview with The Daily Campus, is his favorite place because of its beauty and family history. The song skillfully layers He’s and Mastrandrea’s vocals on top of each other as they chant “Oh rise, oh rise, oh rise.” Even better, the differences in the tones of the layered voices can clearly be heard and add a lot of volume to this track.  

All I can say is that I am no musician, but I know a good album when I hear it.  

4.5 out of 5 stars 

Favorite tracks: “Marshmallow Daydream,” “avery point (ode to barbara),” “summit,” “lac de miroirs” 

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