The Mary Onettes

Hit the Waves

LABRADOR

Mar 14, 2013 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


The Mary Onettes has been releasing dreamy indie-pop from Jönköping, Sweden since Swedish label par excellence, Labrador, put out the band's Lost EP in 2006. Seven years and two albums later, the band has decided to change its tactic a bit. On 2007's self-titled debut and 2009's follow up, Islands, The Mary Onettes traded in lush, orchestrated pop symphonies whose big, instrument-filled arrangements masked a certain darkness and lyrical melancholy. For this year's Hit the Waves, the band abandoned the symphonic sounds for a more synthesized, New Wave-y '80s pop shimmer, à la The Cure or Depeche Mode. "Evil Coast," a song that on past albums would likely have featured cascading string ambience, now sparkles with synthesized sounds and an instrumental outro that mirrors the waves implicit in the song's title, washing the song away just past the five minute mark. "Black Sunset" is carried on electronic drum beat pulse and singer/songwriter Philip Ekström's Robert Smith-esque vocals.

In case you were worried, the band hasn't abandoned it's signature pop sound; Hit the Waves is very much a Mary Onettes album. And the band certainly has not strayed in its lyrical leanings. In fact, Hit the Waves may be The Mary Onettes' darkest album yet. One only needs to peruse the song titles"Can't Stop the Aching," "Unblessed," "How It All Ends," and "Don't Forget (to Forget About Me)" to name a fewto realize that Ekström is not exactly the happiest of campers. Unfortunately, this might be where one misses the swelling orchestrations the most, as counterpart to the band's often depressed and über-introspective tone. Even if slightly extreme, comparisons to albums like Disintegration are apt. With the possible exception of "Unblessed," which features jaunty keyboards that are reminiscent of 1985, as well as seagull sounds, the songs on Hit the Waves pair The Mary Onettes' sorrow with equally bleak soundscapes. The album is an undoubtedly fine affair. One just sometimes wishes Ekström might cheer up a bit. (www.themaryonettes.net)

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