Tony Malaby’s tense melody on album opener “Minimalism/416-538-7149” perfectly sets the tone for the piece and the rest of the album that follows. His minor, dark tonalities are surrounded by oscillating strings with Fraser’s textural drum approach serving as the group’s glue.
“Minimalism” serves as a concise rundown of the band’s skills as they quickly move from abstract beginnings to a more hectic climax without over-emphasizing any particular level of energy. As the album moves forward more exploration is done and time spent on specific levels of energy and dynamics, however, by lightly touching upon the band’s conception of sound development, “Minimalism” obtains a lot of replay value.
The group’s aesthetic is extraordinarily malleable with any player prone to work in the foreground or background depending on the stage of the song’s development. This dynamic aspect of the ensemble’s sound conception is accomplished through the lack of stagnant root. Fraser dances around the meter expertly while the absence of piano, an instrument prone to chordal repetition, allows the group to be extremely collective as all of their ideas may bounce off of each other in the non-hierarchical space. Another symptom of the piano-less void is a certain lightness that the songs carry. On this track in particular the plucking strings complement Malaby’s staccato.
Starer is a fantastic album. It’s development and dynamicism combine for a beautiful level of musicality with the quick-hitting natures of the song maintaining the attention of the audience through every nook and cranny.
On “Puberty 2” Mitski never cedes the identity of her songs too quickly. Instead, the listener begins to realize how each song is going to operate as it moves along. On “Once More to See You,” mysterious beginnings evolve into a balladic state. On the next song, chugging guitars build a foundation for Mitski to amass a hit single. Through the use of unpredictable vocal melodies, lush instrumentation, and dark production, Mitski comes through with a particularly mature record that keeps its audience guessing throughout.
Perhaps the way each song reveals itself is accomplished through its wide array of instrumentation. On album opener “Happy,” a saxophone comes into the picture late in the game to bring a soaring melody into the picture. “Your Best American Girl” becomes a heavy power pop tune through the use of a distorted vocal effect. The keyboards on “Thursday Girl” complement a beautiful slow moving melody from Mitski. All of the different instruments are combined perfectly in the production providing an extraordinarily mature sound.
Lyrically, the album weaves various metaphors and narratives giving way to Mitski’s internal conflicts. “Happy” addresses the emotion as a character that Mitski communicates with. In doing so she implies that happiness is something that comes to her not something constantly part of her life. Despite the optimistic melody, the song becomes particularly dark with lines like “I’d do anything to have him stay with me” and “I was in the bathroom/I didn’t hear him leave” implying that happy is a difficult thing for Mitski to find.
Overall, I had a great first experience with the album. I found it to be an unpredictable rock record with a tun of contrast. Despite only lasting 30 minutes, Mitski is a true songwriting talent with a unique voice.
On “Potential” The Range offers a beautiful collection of sounds built on the foundation of keyboard melodies decorated by samples found around the depths of youtube. Beginning with the words “right now I don’t have a back-up plan for if I don’t make it,” opener “Regular” attains an anxious tone. In a way the album sheds light on the feelings of youth as some moments lead to bright beauty and others dwell on anxiety and heartbreak. The album builds into moments of glory on its particularly dance-able tracks like “Copper Wire” and “Florida.” The Range is a master of texture. His warm baritone-range melodies are always highlighted by clicking drum sounds and plucked strings giving the tracks beautifully articulated rhythms. It is truly astounding how well integrated the youtube samples are. Although they avoid the forefront a bit, instead manipulated in a way that values melody over lyricism, The Range doesn’t use them to show off, always valuing musicality in the highest regard.