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'Winner Goes Home' Review: Pure Protein's debut EP seamlessly blends '90s rock with emo and dream pop vibes

Pure Protein has released his new debut EP 'Winner Goes Home', giving '90s radio rock fans a treat while adapting a sonically contemporary sound
Pure Protein (Source: Press handout)
Pure Protein (Source: Press handout)

MW Powell (also known by stage name Pure Protein) has released his debut EP, 'Winner Goes Home', on May 8. Originally hailing from Mississippi, Powell is a Los Angeles-based songwriter and producer who found his footing in the budding Southern alternative music scene, eventually becoming tethered to the now infamous Cats Purring organization who "make music and book shows at the Cats Purring Dude Ranch and elsewhere in Oxford, MS," according to their official site.

While mingling with Mississippi alternative icons including Colour Revolt, Dead Gaze, Flight, and Dent May, "Powell honed his production and songwriting chops that would lay the foundation for his work as Pure Protein," as a press release statement reads.

Powell would later move 1800 miles west to Los Angeles from there to come to the fore in the music industry and begin his career as Pure Protein. With his 2020 debut release, 'Pure Protein' merges sounds of the '90s rock radio music he grew up on with the contemporary styles and tones of the emo revival and dream pop. "With Pure Protein, M.W Powell aims to create something familiar while still claiming his own sonic niche," a statement reads.

Take the raw '90s rock sounds of odes from bands like Goo Goo Dolls or Gin Blossom and combine it with the deep vocals and electrically-charged dream pop of M83, and will get a clearer idea of the sound of 'Winner Goes Home'.

The EP's title track pushes the tempo up yet remains peaceful in its energies. Punk drumming drives the rhythm while Powell's gravelly vocal cords become light and charmingly tender the more you listen to the vocals. As the first track on the EP and one of the fastest in pace to mix with the sounds of dream pop, it is clear that Pure Protein has developed his recording ability to fine art: a promising entry to the rest of the songs.

'Molly Urethane' opens with an electronic beat to a snappy acoustic guitar jangle as Powell's vocals reverberate and court his listeners. Taking on layers of softened grooves, the song expands without becoming heavy-laden, making the scaled back segments more effective.


The final track on 'Winner Goes Home', widens the rest of the EP's tone with a more trebled guitar riff and high-frequency electronic ballad beat. Appearing as a throwback to emo feels at its opening, the track bursts into a higher pace and victorious in its musical tone. It is fitting as an emotional and thought-centric number on an urban night's drive playlist.

The new EP could see more distinct alterations to the rhythm usage to define each track better from their counterparts, but overall, 'Winner Goes Home' remains enrapturing and fitting as an escapist's set of music without letting you slip into an emo pit of despair.