Maxwell Stern’s Songs That Inspired “Impossible Sum”

The former emo is stepping out on his own with intimate indie songs inspired by Wild Pink, Big Thief, and more.

Maxwell Stern is known for a lot of things, including his work in angsty bands like Signals Midwest or Timeshares, but right now he’s just Maxwell Stern. On his own, he’s powerful in this position of vulnerability, free to create whatever comes to him. He’s left emo and pop punk behind for more a mature and refined mode of expression that permeates his new album Impossible Sum, out now.

“When I’m in the mode of writing for a band, everything gets filtered through a particular lens or genre, or I present certain ideas that I know will play well with specific band members,” Stern shared in a press statement. “So I really tried hard to throw that kind of thinking out for the sake of making something different.” The result is an intimate collage of different sounds with Stern’s earnest vocals at the forefront, singing of personal revelations and endurances. He wasn’t completely alone; he worked with a bunch of talented friends, including Adam Beck (Sincere Engineer, Into It. Over It.), Matt Arbogast (The Gunshy), his Timeshares bandmate Jon Hernandez, Laura Stevenson, and Kyle Pulley.

Stern put together a playlist of songs that inspired Impossible Sum, including everything from Land of Talk to Pinback. “This is a selection of what I was listening to when we were making Impossible Sum,” he tells us. “I tried to pick songs that really commit to a groove, a singular idea or a lyrical throughline. There are a few songs from producer Kyle Pulley and drummer Adam Beck mixed in there too!”

Listen to it below.

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