Taking a Look Back On…The Mary Onettes – Islands

Alright, I’d like you to close your eyes and take a trip with me all the way back to November of 2009. Are you there? Can you remember it? Can you handle the nostalgia? The Mary Onettes are a band that I’ve known about since they released their debut album in 2007 and to be honest they were never a band that particularly stood out to me at the time. I don’t really remember falling deeply in love with any of their albums or even remember any of the singles (great sales job, eh?) until one of their songs popped up randomly when my iPod was on shuffle. “Puzzles” is the song that played that day, the opening track on their sophomore release Islands and I have been a believer and so excited to hear more from them ever since.

Islands is my idea of a perfect summer. I should also mention nostalgia is a bitch when you are in the throes of winter (and no I’m not talking about being nostalgic for 2009…). This is an album straight out of the happy-time 80’s. I can see the neon windbreakers as we speak. Synths, keyboards, and the perfect meaty 80s vocals that remind me of the The Cure or The Smiths. You can almost see the breakfast club dancing right in front of your eyes.

The album starts off with the two strongest songs on the album. “Puzzles” is a fun upbeat song to start off your evening. It gives you that careless summertime feeling. You know, the one that’s all about hanging out, drinking, dancing, and all of that other hipster shit. I mean with a chorus that starts, “I’m going out to stay up all night” what do you expect? “Dare” is my second favorite track on the album, actually, it may be tied for first. It’s an upbeat song about hapless love, relationships and Philip Ekström, the lead singer’s voice soaring over the chorus and that combined with the strings you really can’t help but to sing along to…or maybe that’s just me. And lets not forget “Once I Was Pretty”, the other single on the album. It’s another catchy tune (are you seeing a pattern?) that you’ll find yourself singing along to randomly throughout your day (you may also find others staring at you when you cry out that you were once pretty).

On the entirety of the album the combination of the strings, synthesizers, drum machines and vocals really make this album stand out from anything else that is being done right now. It’s surf-pop before surf-pop made a crazy resurgence. There’s no lo-fi to be found, and no mangled, whiny voices either. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I enjoy my fair share of lo-fi surf pop, but it sounds so fresh among all of the chillwave of the world.

I hate to sound repetitive here, but the album really is an album that is a charming getaway straight into the world John Hughes. Songs about young love, friends, and simpler times. If you’re looking for something new and experimental that sounds like nothing else then this record is not for you, but if you’re willing to sacrifice a Saturday, you might find who they are (or who you want them to be) beyond the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. You might find out that they are a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal all rolled into one. Does that answer your question?…Wait. What the fuck was I talking about again?

The Mary Onettes will be releasing an EP on Labrador Records February 28th. Listen to the single ” Love’s Taking Strange Ways” below!


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