by Nick Adams (@n1ck_adams)
Geoffrey Webb isn’t wasting time on Life as a Baller. Not two seconds pass on his debut full-length before he launches into the strongest chorus he’s written to date, a high bar on an album full of irresistible hooks. Webb, otherwise known as COMPs, is a true independent—self-producing and playing every instrument on record, including the programmed drums. But his greatest strength is his ability to write memorable melodies, boiling indie rock down to its catchiest elements. The economical Life as a Baller packs in a high chorus-to-verse ratio and is a sterling résumé for his songwriting talent.
That opening chorus, from “The New Edition,” establishes the pop sensibilities that are standard fare in COMPs songs. Webb’s vocals rise and fall like gently rolling hills, so fluid you’d expect him to talk in sing-songy rhyme too. He doesn’t often linger on notes or leave negative space between lines, instead deftly stringing together continuous vocal melodies that will rattle around your head all day.
The rise of the “bedroom pop” label may bring to mind hordes of clumsy, tuneless tracks with no business existing publicly, but the COMPs project is an example of how this low-budget aesthetic can showcase genuine talent. Webb is responsible for every note on Life as a Baller, but the songs still buzz with the energy of a full band, readymade for a live setting. The drum patterns feel natural, programmed with understated mastery; the guitar solos efficiently complement the vocal melodies. The COMPs method feels like an chosen ethic rather than a necessity. His sound is created in the bedroom but not beholden to it.
Though the middle three songs flit between claustrophobic anxiety and sour breeziness, Life as a Baller functions best when leaning into comfortable indie rock, fuzzy and guitar-driven without too much adornment. The songs tend to derail when straying from this blueprint and overextending—the vibrant and squeaky “Backbone” feels labored, but still finds a sweet spot when it gets back to basics. The strongest COMPs material carries uncertainty while still knowing how to have fun.
If the opening pair of songs exhibits Webb’s knack for hooks, the closing pair demonstrates his formidable composing skills (without losing the melodies, obviously). In the instrumental sections of both “Next Door Cemetery” and “Housemate,” Webb deconstructs the compositions he subtly arranged, revealing the array of moving parts beneath the surface. Life as a Baller is full of intricacies unveiled with repeat listens, songs that are unabashedly catchy and exquisitely well-crafted—too rare a breed to take for granted.