The Mary Onettes | s/t (Labrador)

cd_mary-onettes.jpgOn one of the standout tracks, "Lost," the group sounds remarkably isolated, yet oddly upbeat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock ‘n’ roll has many themes. Musically, this album addresses two of them: extremes and simplicity.

While Swedish group The Mary Onettes’ music isn’t quite what you’d call extreme, it does blend existing musical extremes into a very accessible sound without coming off like the work of poseurs or corporate rockers.

The driving, bass-heavy sounds of gloomy post-punk dominate the instrumentals and seep into the vocals. At the same time the band drifts towards upbeat, almost bouncy indie rock. Finally, they top it all of with soaring synths so well executed they might give Robert Smith something to smile about.

On one of the standout tracks, "Lost," the group sounds remarkably isolated, yet oddly upbeat. This song isn’t meant for indoor sulking; it’s a great soundtrack to late-night driving (while sulking).

Lyrically, the band doesn’t falter, but they’re not offering up any grand originality. The melodies the words are sung in, though, are sometimes so affecting that language and cliché are irrelevant. I already called the synths soaring, but that word is the best descriptor for most of the vocals, too. In fact, much of the time, they’re reminiscent of—gasp—Chris Martin. But that’s mostly just in tone and style. Not in pompousness or sleep-inducement. In fact, listening to this record made me revisit X&Y just to see where and how things went wrong.

Despite some upbeat numbers, The Mary Onettes have made a sad sounding album. It’s not depressing, and it probably won’t become any angsty teen’s favorite record, but there’s a maturity to the sadness. The liner notes are filled with glossy pictures of bleak, foggy, presumably wintertime pictures of trees and waterfronts at either dusk or dawn. That’s the mood of this album. It’s not something to cry along with, it’s more like a deep breath of Scandinavian air. Refreshing but cold. B+ | Gabe Bullard

RIYL: The Cure, Joy Division, Coldplay, The Shins

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