But the Sonder Bombs — whose name comes from the word describing the realization that each passerby’s life is as complex as your own (which guitarist Jimmy Wilkens says they found in a “dictionary of obscure sorrows”) — was originally a duo, with Willow Hawks on vocals and Wilkens filling in the instrumentals, formed in 2016. Brought together by a shared love for the Pixies and Weezer, they set about devising a “catchy, quirky” sound exemplified on their first album, “Modern Female Rockstar.”
“We wanted to find our own niche, our own little pocket, where we could write catchy songs that had an edge or a punk undertone to it,” Wilkens says during a Zoom interview with the trio. “We just liked weird stuff.”
The pair succeeded with the help of Hawks’s ukulele prowess, which colors the more tender parts of an album that tackles the struggles of integrating into an alternative music scene as a band of queer, non-male musicians. Hawks says they faced relentless comparisons to bands with female vocalists, pointed and pinned against one another as if in competition. “Title” opens over distorted strums: “I don’t wanna be your merch girl / I wanna be your godd— idol.”
“It felt like there was always pushback, so we were always trying to push back harder,” Hawks says. “There’s a lot of frustration and angst in that record that I just needed to get out.”
The thrashing, cathartic album seems to have made room for future musical exploration. “Clothbound,” devised with the addition of drummer Jer Berkin, swerves between nostalgic pop and ethereal doo-wop, tinged with hardcore breakdowns.
“I’m at a point in our career where we’ve been rocking for so long, and now I just want to shake my a–,” Hawks says. “Just sing and have fun.”
Hawks claims to have been “listening to a lot of Charli XCX.” It shows in recent single “Waste,” their floaty vocals distorted over electronic beats. Though Wilkens says that’s a direction the band is moving toward, they note that “not every song will sound like that.” Fans should expect more straight rock songs and “booty-shaking music,” too. The thread throughout the trio’s genre traversing seems to be its unshakable vulnerability.
“I felt like being vulnerable … meant you’re weak or whatever toxic things your brain tells you,” Hawks says, their cat Capo in their lap. “But the more I’ve opened up in my songs and the more I’ve gotten to share them with other people, I’ve found there’s a lot of power in vulnerability.”
Oct. 13 at 10 p.m. at Comet Ping Pong, 5037 Connecticut Ave. NW. cometpingpong.com. $15.