Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's Not The Band I Hate, It's Their Name...

Seriously, what is in the water in Sweden. Is there some secret experiment going on where the drinking water has been mixed (or outright replaced) with Coca-Cola? How else to explain their proficiency at writing incredible pop songs.
For decades now there have been a string of absolute pop marvels produced by Swedes and I'm officially adding The Mary Onettes to a list that includes ABBA, the Cardigans, Robyn, the Acid House Kings, Peter Bjorn & John and Jens Lekman.

Hailing from Torpa, Jönköping, this quartet is about to release their second full-length album, Islands, on November 4th on Labrador Records. While I enjoyed their 2007 self-titled debut album, they take a great step forward here with both the production and the songwriting.

Album highlight "Dare" features an epic intro that swells with guitars and electronic strings before receding when Philip Ekström's impassioned vocals come in. They come back on the chorus - which is epic without screaming "EPIC" - and then dissipate again on the verses, simmering in the background. The best part is that the band chooses to match the accompaniment to the melodic line as Ekström climbs the register on "now I know / turning here / ain't that hard / despite my fear" [**I may be wrong about that second line - I can't find the official lyrics anywhere**]. It's always a risk for the entire focus to be on the melody and abandon harmony but damned if The Mary Onettes don't pull it off.

Their sound is a bit more muscular on lead-off single "Puzzles," a keyboard-driven tune reminiscent of New Order's work and another slice of pop perfection, where lyrics that express ennui and searching are dressed up in catchy melodies. This is where fans of The Smiths ears perk up like mine did.

Now about the band's name and my title for this post... maybe 'hate' is too strong a word, but I certainly don't like it. Why not The Marionettes? Or something altogether different. The 'cleverness' of Mary Onettes just makes me think of the movie That Thing You Do where the band want to call themselves the Oneders and people pronounce it oh-nee-ders instead of won-ders. Ah well, I'm not in the band so it wasn't my decision.

While the rest of the material on Islands is uniformly solid, take a listen to my favourite song from the album, "Dare" as well as "Puzzles," both courtesy of Magnum PR.

And be sure to check out the Mary Onettes Myspace page and their Labrador Records artists' page while their official website is under construction.

Thanks for reading, now start listening...

1 comment:

Preston van Dijk said...

Agreed, 100%.

I am big on aesthetics. The name is awful, but looks great in print; much nicer than "the Marionettes" would but... a pun? Really? Come on. I'm embarrassed to tell people the name of the band I'm listening to. "Oh, it's uh... this band from Sweden, fantastic."

Then again, the Beatles made it on the back of a pun (thanks to the strength of song - something these dudes have in spades)

I've also taken to pronouncing it like the Oh-nee-ders as "The mary OH-nets" -- drives me crazy.