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Posted August 26, 2008 by Mike Mineo in Features
 
 

Loquat Discovers the Secrets of the Sea

It must be a thrill to have a professional song written about yourself. Even one success could bring the targeted interest to their knees, especially if the songwriter at hand actually holds a reciprocated romantic interest of some sort. Unlike other indie-pop groups who were already conjoined by romantic relations before or in the midst of their formation like Mates of State or Viva Voce, the two married members in Loquat had to grow accustomed to involving marital topics several years after the group’s formation in 2001. Songwriter/vocalist Kylee Swenson fell for bassist Anthony Gordon in the most musically productive way possible prior to the release of Secrets of the Sea, channeling their emotions into songs that were highly reminiscent of the band’s accessible indie-pop approach and romanticized atmosphere due to the sudden increase in personal activity. In fact, one could easily make the argument that the expansion of their relationship into something more idealistic consequently resulted in an expansion of their music on both an emotional and stylistic level. Soaked over an array of guitars, keys, and synthesized strings, both members found that the song’s topics could be about them at any time. For a band like Loquat, though, who specializes in breezily memorable hooks and romantically anecdotal lyrics, it simply adds to a rarely accomplished feat in contemporary pop music that is focused on sincerity.

Despite the emergence of marriage allowing for a generally more cohesive lyrical front on Loquat’s newest effort, it turns out that the recent marriage of Swenson and Gordon was only one of the few things that effected the recording of their second album, Secrets of the Sea. “Births, deaths, and a lot of intense things happened while we were recording this [Secrets of the Sea] album,” Swenson claimed, heavily hinting at the fact that the several members of Loquat contribute to songs that are in more ways personal than they are theoretical. Compared to their debut album, It’s Yours to Keep, and the success it saw on several television shows like One Tree Hill, the content is deeper and more sincere on Secrets of the Sea. Experience and personal relationships are the prime beneficiaries here, resulting in a wider range of styles and emotional approaches that allows the five-piece to explore their stylistic roots while simultaneously expanding upon their previous emotional usage. “Stop your complaining cause it’s draining me out, for them it’s freezing yet you think of yourself.” Swenson sings during “Go Hibernate”, a track whose focus on self-absorbedness almost comes off as a warning against the unfortunate majority who subconsciously manipulate their partner through white lies and false morality.

While the lyrical content serves as the strongest batch of songs Loquat has released on that front, the most striking aspect to previous listeners will be the diversified array of styles and melodic forms that the previously linear group has attempted and mostly succeeded in. The aforementioned “Go Hibernate” capitalizes on feelings of betrayal and regret by introducing a focus on a heavily chugging bass line that is abruptly complemented by a few concise synth keys. When the chorus arrives and Swenson reveals to the listener a variety of revelations pertaining to an immoral lover who remains unchanged against the harsh brush of society, the perkiness picks up in her voice as the rhythm section explodes into full force and the guitars shift into a vigorous progression. The transition from serene verse to distorted chorus is commendably done, even if the remainder is somewhat predictable in tone and structure. For listeners who find appeal in tracks with a heavy set of emotions, catchy instrumentation, and unintimidating structural tendencies though, a track like “Go Hibernate” can work wonders. A track with a more guitar-led approach like “Comedoewn’s Worse” succeeds and falters in similar ways, sacrificing ambition for surefire hooks but doing so in a way that is not overly desperate. All in all though, the consistencies found on each and every track on Secrets of the Sea makes the effort very worthwhile for fans of the indie-pop genre and for those who appreciate genuinely invigorating pop hooks. The fact that they have become more emotionally progressive also remains wildly appealing.

For a group consisting of Loquat’s female-fronted indie-pop atmospherics, comparisons to acts like Mates of State, Cat Power, and Metric seem bound to come up. The question of how Loquat separates itself from the pack can be rather unassuming at first, but a concentrated listen throughout the album will treat patient listeners with several rewards. A track like “Harder Hit” immediately opens up the album with an extremely radio-friendly effort that sees Swenson’s heartrending vocals at their ultimate best. In typical form, a star-studded chorus sees instrumental additives illustrate themselves cohesively over an operatic performance from Swenson herself. Once again, the transition from subdued verse to highly volatile chorus is present and not even nearly shameful, as the diversity that Loquat presents in their songwriting on tracks like the key-tinged “Harder Hit”, the orchestral accompanied and acoustical flair of “Clearly Now”, and the slick synth-based rhythms of “Sit Sideways” is certainly enough for a band of their engagingly appealing nature. They are not the most structurally ambitious folk writing indie-pop songs today, but there is no denying that the 5 members in Loquat have the esteemed ability to write hook-filled songs that will remain stuck in your head for days. On Secrets of the Sea, they have simply perfected their own formula through the involvement of personal relationships and sociological patterns.

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Loquat – Go Hibernate**

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Loquat – Sit Sideways

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Loquat – Harder Hit

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**Track removed upon request of artist**

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Mike Mineo

 
I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound. I used to write for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].