November 22, 2017

The Mallorys.

Every morning when I wake up
and I realize I failed to die,
I look at my phone to see who called,
to see who cared

And I can’t help but always notice … 
your name is never there

My goodness, here’s something out of the blue, rather unique, and quite able to knock a listener completely off his/her feet ... but where in holy heck did this come from?!  Apparently, a gentleman named Danny Robles, who would seem to be the leader and chief songwriter, with help from a few friends in the Chicago area, choosing a perfectly twee band name, aptly serving as the release title:  The Mallorys.
But how best to describe it?  Well, most (but not all) of the tracks fall neatly into the ubiquitous "Post-Smiths Jangle-Twee" category, resembling a cross between, say, Cats on Fire and The Felt Tips, with pleasantly spiraling guitar arpeggios and witty, gleefully self-obsessed, 'literary' lyrics delivered in a meter firmly in the Moz mold and nearly all describing a suicidal level of infatuation, gloriously unrequited.

Thus, some might view “Rosemary, Really I’m Fine”, driven by acoustic-guitar strumming, as a souped-up version of “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want”, while “You Are the Catalyst” recalls the self-propulsion (albeit double-timed) of “Some Girls are Bigger Than Others” -- but only musically; lyrically “I think that I will die for you” (along with the quote that begins this piece) make it seethe with a last-chance air of desperation.  Only “You Don’t Know What’s Best For Me,” another top-notch tune that jumps rope, skipping forward with a splendid jangle throughout, allows a bit of anger to cut through (“guess I should be glad I didn’t waste more time on you”).

However (with a big capital "H"), I don't sense a direct, 100% pure-bred Morrissey-esque crooning lineage one could trace, for example, to Pelle Carlberg of Edson fame (despite one fully-moaned falsetto chorus in “Anna the Librarian”).  Instead (and here's the interesting kicker), the vocals feature a moderate level of theatricality that's nearly mid-period Bowiesque (gasp!), but with a darker resonance, perhaps as descended down through 80s Indie of a mildly ‘goth' persuasion, such as Bauhaus or Killing Joke.  Moreover, some tracks pulse with a prominent bass-line, heavily flanged (or is it chorused? --I'm no musician) right out of the New Order/Joy Division/Cure playbook (“Anna…”, “Where You Left Me Hanging”, etc.).

Clearly, this ain't your grandfather's Twee, but a unique hybrid, as when two little show champions of disparate lines mate -- suddenly everyone wants a  new breed puppy.  With 'eclectic' in this site's title, I'm naturally inclined to view this as less a heavy-handed pastiche, haphazardly Jackson-Pollocked onto an indiepop canvas, and more a skillful postmodern blend, a new Sherwin-Williams color that's sorta blue, kinda red, but not really purple (with a bit of black eyeliner applied around the edges).

This multidimensionality leads to a complex listener reaction, a lingering long finish as each track ends (more like a Thai curry than an overpriced Cabernet) that makes you think "Hmm...fascinating!" then repeatedly smack the play button like one of Pavlov's canines, upon which the Bandcamp app will suggest you buy it -- so go ahead, a better $6 bargain you won't find, certainly not authentic Thai, even outside of Chicago-land.

Bandcamp:  The Mallorys.

Band Twitter handle:  @dannyrrobles

(Lake Forest, IL - 2017)