Pom Pom Squad Explores Heartbreak with EP, Ow
By Erin Christie
On September 6, Brooklyn-based foursome Pom Pom Squad—Mia Berrin (lead vocals, guitar), Mari Ale Figeman (bass), Shelby Keller (drums), and Ethan Sass (guitar)—released their sophomore EP, Ow, and as its title suggests, it’s an emotional rollercoaster.
“Is it worth crying at night / if it sets my soul on fire” Berrin croons softly on opening track “Ow (Intro),” giving way to the vast emotional capacity that this EP clearly has.
Being vulnerable with yourself and with those close to you is difficult enough, let alone being vulnerable in front of an audience of potential hundreds and thousands of people—but Berrin and Pom Pom Squad appear to be ready to take that head-on.
Transitioning into “Heavy Heavy,” it’s no question that Berrin’s channelling major Mitski-vibes, combining gritty vocals with deep, rhythmic bass. As their Spotify bio detests, “[They’re] quiet grrrl punk that would rather growl than yell,” and tracks such as this stand as a testament to that.
“I’m feeling heavy, heavy....doesn’t mean I wanna fucking die,” Berrin snarls—sometimes, we have to convince ourselves we’re really doing fine in order to stop feeling “not okay,” and a song such as this stands to point out the inherent power we have in being able to pick ourselves up when we’re down. Of course, it’s not always possible to do it on your own, but even with a little push, we can continue to kick ass, even in our darkest times (especially concerning how frustrating the MTA is).
Track “Cherry Blossom” takes a step back, introducing a slower-paced, much bluer theme to the EP. Reminiscing on a past relationship and the comfortability in waking up to your partner’s face, Berrin apologizes for where things went wrong, noting her sadness in seeing the person she once loved underneath the cherry blossom trees with someone other than her. It’s a devastating image, but one that so many of us can relate to all too well.
In a general sense, this EP is like a punch in the gut (wrapped in the most beautiful packaging), as it discusses the most painful parts of love. With lyrics backed by masterful instrumentals—placing them among the ranks of artists such as Lomelda, Cherry Glazerr, Angel Olsen, Courtney Barnett, and Boygenius—though your heartstrings might be getting tugged at, you can’t help but sway from side-to-side as you listen along. With an album in the works, it looks like we’ve got to have a box of tissues and our pom poms ready.
For Issue 15, we had the chance to speak with Berrin about the Brooklyn music scene, the genesis of Pom Pom Squad, and her musical vision—stay tuned to check it out later this fall!