The Mary Onettes | Love Forever EP (Labrador)

 

cd mary-onettes_love-foreveThis is a band that might cloak themselves in bedsit miserablism and Nordic chill and imagery, but mostly they just want to forge a deeper connection

 There’s a certain romance to non-LP singles and between-album EPs, a custom the British did their best to keep alive through its leanest decades. Thankfully, the advent of the digital download, along with the vinyl revival, once again has the medium booming. While Sweden’s Mary Onettes don’t hail from Blighty, they do have a penchant and talent for the art form, as well as for tapping in to a less pessimistic strain of English sadness.

“Love’s Taking Strange Ways” shivers to life with plucked rhythms reminiscent of Kings of Convenience. It’s a clear but not dry production; typically cavernous, but it pulls you a bit closer than you may have been expecting. An upbeat, herky tempo masks the confusion and exhilaration of the starts and stops of new (and/or fading) love. To contrast, “A Breaking Heart Is a Brilliant Start” is an exhalation. As if taking measured breaths, bits of slap bass stab through a steadying veneer of Prefab Sprout-like synth-jazz-piano.

“Will I Ever Be Ready” is a spiritual extension of “Strange Ways,” with which it would’ve made a fine double A-side 45. “8th of June” is the EP’s most noticeable experiment. A quiet, minimalist instrumental, it’s Philip Glass via the Alan Parsons Project crossed with the sentimental piano of a George Winston piece.

I feel like I can’t listen to or write about the Mary Onettes without mentioning ’80s teen dramedy films. Songs like “Will I Ever Be Ready” radiate the awkward, yet sincere vibes of the best John Hughes. This is a band that might cloak themselves in bedsit miserablism and Nordic chill and imagery, but mostly they just want to forge a deeper connection—they just don’t quite know how to say or do it without falling over their own feet in the process.

Although Love Forever isn’t a major evolutionary step forward, with it, the Mary Onettes sound more eager than ever to explore the spaces between sounds and hearts, one tentative, dreamy foot in front of the other. B+ | Mike Rengel

RIYL: The Blue Nile; Prefab Sprout; Kings of Convenience; the scene in Ferris Bueller where Ferris, Sloane, and Cameron are wistfully staring at paintings in the museum

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