Tummyache is a pseudonym for Soren Bryce. While it’s not unusual for an individual to take on a band name, Bryce is using the new name to explore a whole new set of sounds from her prior output. A quick bit of Googling and you’ll find multiple albums from Bryce across a six year history, much of it electronic, beat based and oscillating between heartfelt sparseness and delightfully dance-y.
From the onset, Humpday, the debut EP as Tummyache, is certainly a divergence from that. Fuzzed out guitars, pounding drums and squelching walls of sound are commonplace throughout the release. “Median” is the most immediately explosive of the five but every track eventually makes it way to a swell of something unhinged. Fortunately, a new set of instrumentation doesn’t reset all previous lessons learned. There are flourishes of keyboards and quiet moments throughout that are certainly drawn from Bryce’s earlier writings. This is new and different but it’s clearly all stemming from the same brain.
While the change in musicality is fascinating in itself, listeners should take care to actually listen to the lyrics. They may not be as crisp and upfront as her solo work but they seem to carry the weight of this new direction. Ruminations on body vs mind, childhood vs adulthood and abusive relationships are front and center. The lyrics are powerful, often quite heavy and well worth paying attention to.
The name “Tummyache” may sound cute on the surface but it was chosen as a nod to the intense side effect of severe physical anxiety and the songs certainly reflect that turmoil. Bryce’s solo work and this EP are just two sides of the same coin serving as explorations of the human experience from different viewpoints.