Friday 29 September 2017

Mope Grooves - Joy

"The day after we finished Joy (Sept 25 2k16), I checked myself in to the loony bin...I hadn't been to the farm since I was 18 (I'm 27) and I was surprised to learn that I am in fact still mental."
Stevie Pohlman, Mope Grooves

There's been a succession of musical microgenres in the past decade, chillwave and its loose variants, where artists act out their childhoods, or even nostalgia for halcyon days that predate their own birth, using dream-like sounds, cheap electronic instruments and basic melodic impulses.

Which is where Joy by Mope Grooves fits in, but mostly doesn't. Not just because of the flakiness of those microgenres' boundaries - go back 25 years and you'll find bands with a stack of Beach Boys albums and thrift store fx pedals doing similar things - but because the songs on Joy aren't meant to fit in.

These vignettes - most clock in between 1 and 2 minutes - are intense recreations of someone's inner life. Like Guided By Voices, Mope Grooves try to distil The White Album into pure pop songs. Like The Pastels - a while ago now, you understand - they stumble as if that was the best way to get somewhere. And like Television Personalities, it really is the sound of a nervous breakdown.

Even so, I reckon Stevie Pohlman is mostly a fan of Todd Rundgren and all of the tunes on Rhino's DIY: Come Out And Play - American Power Pop compilation rather than any old indie or microgenre stuff.

If these songs are ever nostalgic, it's only because, as a character in Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris says, it's "the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present”. The album finishes with Flip The Record. You can take it as an instruction, but you'll most likely do just that unbidden.

The sleevenotes are genius, too:
"What do LPs do? Most bands agree they are important, more than the tape or youtube video, but nobody can really justify how expensive and inefficient they are. Nobody asked us to spend 1.5k to wait 4 months to release a record we mastered in November but we did it anyway."

Yes, you could listen to it on YouTube, but you really should buy it. It's a mere $7:

No comments:

Post a Comment