After a fortuitous meeting on a message board in 2010, producer duo LOL Boys, aka Markus Garcia and Jerome Potter, honed their eclectic tastes in a series of EPs that ran the gamut from moody juke cuts to Caribbean-flavored house. The project, not to be confused with meta-boy band HDBoyz, culminated with 2012’s solid Changes EP, their last official release and the namesake of their biggest single to date (the video for “Changes,” with its Photo Booth snapshots of friends and fans, is possibly the most concise statement of self-awareness that LOL Boys ever created). After LOL Boys disbanded, Potter chose to fly solo under the partial pseudonym Jerome LOL, a winking acknowledgement of the idioms produced by both social media and rock lore.
His new EP, a four track collection neatly divided by the appearance of two different vocalists, is not so much a rebirth as a rebranding—Potter stated to Interview that he’d be continuing on post-LOL Boys with a “similar aesthetic,” and so far, he’s stayed true to his intent. Deleted/Fool sounds like a natural, if slightly darker, extension of Changes, down to the fact that it will also be released via label Friends of Friends. And while it also includes a few touches of LOL Boys’ Gchat-via-GeoCities ethos, it’s mostly a selection of fairly straightforward pop songs.
The first half features Sara Z, whose airy voice is reminiscent of London singers like garage darling Katy B and Eliza Doolittle, who notably appeared on Disclosure’s 2013 blockbuster Settle. And Deleted/Fool does feel indebted to the recent pop-styled dance music of UK artists like Disclosure and AlunaGeorge. Unfortunately, Potter’s attachment to meme culture lessens the impact of “Deleted,” which contains an awkward metaphor (“we’re offline/ no course of action/ deleted/ hope you got what you needed.”) The more universal “Always” plays up its lounge lizard atmosphere to ear-wormy effect with a walking bass and pronounced hi-hat. Potter did something similar on earlier one-off single “Happy/Sad,” but here it sounds like a feint in the direction of a sound he hasn’t yet decided to fully pursue.
Potter is most successful on the second half of the EP, which features slinky vocals from Angelina Lucero, a Chicago singer who also appeared on the Changes EP. The most seductive cut is “Fool,” a brooding ode to self-destructive loyalty scored with harshly percussive ornamentation. “Fool” also features on an accompanying website, where one click sends you on a frantic journey down a black tar road, complete with broken yellow lines and undulating text fragments (“I’m A Fool I’m A Fool I’m A Fool”/“It’s A Dream It’s A Dream It’s A Dream”). Potter fills in the track’s crunchy low-end pounding with a rhythmic scraping sound, like someone furiously scrubbing a brush over a washboard. It’s possibly the most engaging sound on an EP that to some extent depends on the success of its guest vocalists, and the website, in all its lo-fi glory, makes an appropriate pairing. (Who knew that nostalgic web design would couple so well with tastefully auto-tuned R&B?)
Despite its short length, the EP isn’t uniformly engaging–final track “Peru” sounds less like a distinct song than a slight mutation of “Fool,” continuing in the same key and adding a melancholy, arpeggiated countermelody. It’s pretty, but not groundbreaking, and Potter might have done better to end with something that showcased his range—for instance, his eerie, slow-burning “Alma”, which featured on a Body High compilation from last year—or that pushed harder into jazz-house fusion. As is, Deleted/Fool ultimately feels noncommittal, the work of a capable producer who’s still searching for a distinctive identity.