The Mary Onettes – Islands

mary

Rating: ★★★★ ·

A few years back I walked into this band, unintentionally, and they’re melodic popscapes have since been part of my valued collection.  Really, it’s hard not to love a good band from Sweden.  Alas, The Mary Onettes return with their latest album Islands.  It’s still got that sweeping emotional grab to it, though listeners familiar with their older work will be able to see that the band sounds much larger than they ever sounded in the past.

“Puzzles” just steps up the band’s reputation from the get go.  You’ll find that shrouded wall of noise opening the album, but the electronic bounce that brings the song full circle will catch you in its grandiosity. It bares the mark of Ekstrom’s delightful vocals, warm and dark one minute, then pushing for the upper limits of catchy melody.  This is all followed by “Dare,” which was issued on the Dare EP earlier this year.  Two for two from the opening moments.

One of the interesting steps aside for the group comes on “Cry of Love.”  It’s full of negative space, almost a dark void, but filled with Ekstrom’s brooding vocals.  And in the middle of the song, level drumming comes in, almost as if it’s meant to just move the song along until the end.  This is one of the band’s moments where they show restraint, scaling back the melodic attack on your ears, quietly sitting in the middle of the album.

And just like that, the winds of the album have turned, well, they’ve calmed down rather.  Large bursting sonic pop-tarts are being replaced by a steadier hand  in the middle of the album.  “The Disappearance of My Youth” and “God Knows I Had Plans” definitely take a turn away from the bombastic jump-start of Islands. For me, this provides a subtle change in the band’s dynamic, which enables the group to push more variation into their songs.

But, the darkness returns with Cure influenced “Symmetry,” which oddly, is one of the best moments on the record.  You can hear the eighties in the song, almost too much, but then again, the band has always bordered on being labeled as relevant nostalgics. And with this, they’re off again, jumping right into “Century,” a song aided by pounding drums and sky-high vocals.  It’s like Glasvegas-lite, and you know your heart can’t fight that sort of audio attack.

And there you have it, another successful album by The Mary Onettes.  Nothing is daring on this album, but nothing need be.  You’ll find yourself with an album worthy of harmonies and brooding, just like you remember them talking about (or maybe you participated) in the tail-spin of the eighties.  Still, there progression and perfection of pop music labels the group as more than classic revisionists; if anything, they’re definitely relevant, as Islands clearly proves.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/01-Puzzles-1.mp3]

Download: The Mary Onettes – Puzzles [MP3]

New Tunes from The Mary Onettes

the mary onettesRiding high on the great press they received over their self-titled debut and their most recent Dare EP, The Mary Onettes are slated to take on the world.  Their newest number is a little bit more straightforward than their previous efforts, though it still shines through with a glimpse into the past.  This song, “Puzzles,” will be on the band’s new album Islands, which is scheduled to arrive in America on November 3rd.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/01-Puzzles-1.mp3]

Download: The Mary Onettes – Puzzles [MP3]

The Mary Onettes – Dare Ep

dare

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Sweden’s The Mary Onettes have long been one of those bands that I wished everyone would get into, as they clearly deserve the recognition I’ve built for them in my brain.  Perhaps some will find them drenched in nostalgia, but their self-titled debut showed that they could rise above and beyond limitations of the past. So here they come with their first release in a few years, the Dare EP.

Right away, you sort of have to knock it down a bit based on the fact that there are only three songs on the EP, which is short, even for EP standards.  In the end, you find that this is possibly the only knock on these exceptional tracks; you’ll find nothing else wrong here.

“Dare” is the opening track, and one I threw your way earlier on in the year.  Opening the song you have a swirling guitar sound reminiscent of the opening moments of “Geraldine” by Glasvegas, though the lyrics here will delve further into true meaning than some of the simpler lyrics by the latter.  Also, as with most current bands, the melodious moments are accompanied by layers of atmospheric guitar screeching and pounding drums.  Everything about this song sums up carefully the abilities of The Mary Onettes when they’re at their best.

Following the opener is “Kicks.”  It’s a far cry from most of their earlier work; it’s clearly more subdued in mood and pacing.  This is one of the first songs in their career that I feel is driven by the vocals and lyrics rather than the beat.  Broodingly gently piano accompaniment continues to push this song into traditional ballad format.

“God Knows I Had Plans” closes the Dare EP with a shimmering wall of guitars and harmonies.  A certain warmth exist on this song, which immediately implies a certain craft leaning towards soundscapes.  This is perhaps a fitting association, though they fill the traditional elements with belting harmonies and pounding drums.

It’s a really short effort, but at its best, it portrays a band pushing beyond the boundaries of their glorious first efforts and bounding forwards towards new horizons.  Expect to continue to hear brilliant moments from this band in the near future.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/02-kicks-1.mp3]

Download: The Mary Onettes – Kicks [MP3]

New Tunes from Mary Onettes

mary You’d be hard pressed to find a better place to play than the current state of things in Sweden.  One of those bands who hasn’t gotten too much press, but who deserves a great deal of praise is The Mary Onettes.  Their upcoming Dare EP is set to come out digitally, with a physical release slated for June.  Here is a taste of the title track off said EP.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/dare.mp3]

Download: The Mary Onettes – Dare [MP3]