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Cusp steps into the world of synth-pop on new single 'I Can't Die' 

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In spring, the Rochester indie-rock group Cusp released “Spill,” a debut EP characterized by intricate guitar parts and intense, climactic arrangements. The five-song release packs a punch in under 20 minutes, immediately drawing the listener in through catchy lyrics and raw, honest vocals from singer-guitarist Jen Bender. On “Spill,” the band teeters between the realms of post-hardcore and post-punk, creating a high-powered, mesmerizing set of songs.

On Cusp’s latest single, “I Can’t Die,” Bender continues to flex her skills at writing lyrical hooks that are both unforgettable and emotionally sincere. While the track was mixed and mastered by the band’s guitarist, Gaelen Bates, Bender accompanies herself with a keyboard and digital drums. With “I Can’t Die,” Cusp steps beyond the boundaries of indie rock and into the dreamlike world of synth-pop.

Bender’s lyrics evoke a nostalgia that manages to be both acutely personal and effortlessly universal. “I see you pulling into driveways / Biking in the wrong lane / Sitting on your porch step / Fighting off a migraine / Practicing your magic / Let the darkness fill me / Think I’d even like it / If it didn’t kill me,” she sings.

At times, synth-pop artists can fall prey to the understated nature of the genre— and fail to create a sound distinctly their own. But “I Can’t Die” breaks this barrier with fervor, making a lasting impression on the listener through Bender’s unconventionally direct vocals and unendingly clever verses.

As the song closes and the hook repeats like the hazy soundtrack to a carousel ride, Bender sings, “I can’t die / I’m alive in memories / Now I’m talking to the trees / Begging them to comfort me, comfort me.”

While “I Can’t Die” may have fans wanting more synth-pop tracks from Cusp, they could be waiting for a while.“Tell your friends. The next single is going to be heavy and with guitars,” the band wrote on Twitter. “Get the synth pop while it lasts!”

Cusp plays alongside Green Dreams and Chores on Friday, October 29, at the Psychic Garden, 137 Railroad St. Doors at 7 PM. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door. Masks required.

Emmarae Stein is a freelance writer for CITY. Feedback on this article can be directed to
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