Sometimes your dreams are bigger than originally imagined. After a successful crowdfunding effort, Cumulus was one day from pressing its debut album in 2013 when the band got an email from Death Cab For Cutie‘s Chris Walla. Walla not only wanted to work with the Seattle band, but also sign it to his label Trans- Records (also home to Now, Now). The result was I Never Meant It To Be Like This, an indie-pop record with grand rock gestures, spearheaded by Alexandra Niedzialkowski.
Cumulus is working on its Walla-produced follow-up right now, but today offers the self-recorded stand-alone single “Retreat” that lands somewhere between David Bazan‘s droll sense of melody and Sheryl Crow‘s sunniest hooks. It’s so catchy that, if you’re not paying attention, you might miss Niedzialkowski’s message about consent.
“I wrote this song after leaving encounters with men and feeling exhausted and disappointed at the inability to communicate effectively what I needed,” Niedzialkowski tells NPR Music. “I started to think about the power of a song, how it can unite us in a feeling or remind us of the feelings we have forgotten. I wrote this song as an anthem to any listener, and to myself, that we are deserving of space and respect. I wrote it as a reminder to men, to listen as we speak, and you are not entitled to a woman’s space and time simply because of your physical proximity. I wrote this song because I needed it to exist, and perhaps if I needed it, then others did, too.”
Where Sad13‘s “Get A Yes” explored the mutual excitement that comes from consent, Cumulus’ “Retreat” demands respect from men who barge into women’s spaces. It’s simple enough to remember, dudes, and bears repeating: “If I don’t say yes, I’m asking you to leave / And when I say no, you gotta retreat, retreat, retreat.”