Max and the Martians – Please Remember
When things start going badly, I start wishing I was a character in an American movie or song made pre-1980. There’s a bubblegum heartbreak to that kind of work. It’s pop-art. It’s something that couldn’t possibly hurt, and events that always work out for the best.
This is, maybe, the reason why the trends, including the musical ones that were once popular in the United States of America, will never truly die. Sure, it’s also the fact that from folk to garage rock, very competent musicians have tended to be part of these recordings. However, a lot of it lies, I believe, in the fact that this music seems removed from the pessimism of any era.
Max and the Martians’ retro-styled garage-pop of Please Remember is filled with that kind of plastic heartbreak. The twang of the vocals and the lyrics are certainly enough to make a man weep, but there’s optimism in the grainy soulfulness of the track. Eh, things always work out anyway.
Horse & Wells – Joshua Tree
Back in the 1990’s record labels were desperate to find “real characters” to fill out their rock and rap rosters. Some of them got more than they bargained for. Indeed, many of these musicians became stars, but many of them also perished young or caused the labels’ similar problems.
What we got instead were musicians playing the part of edgy rock and rap stars. It is, perhaps, the reason why sincere emotion seems to be something that is strategically avoided from pop, the music promoted in the mainstream. We’ve become so used to unthreatening art than anything else, and unsanctioned might seem like too much of a shock.
Horse & Wells do not belong to this world, as can be seen by the tender and emotional Joshua Tree. Their sound is built on honest emo and alternative rock. Their pace is slow and deliberate. And, their lyrics can be heartbreaking. It’s a pop surrogate with which we are rarely presented nowadays, but one that might well be worth embracing.