The Mary Onettes – “Unblessed”
Swedish dream-pop group The Mary Onettes seem like they’ve been on the verge of a breakthrough since 2007, when their exceptional debut was released. The quartet’s songs have always been translucent and laden with hooks, taking a cue from the Balaeric pop scene as well as ’80s jangle-poppers in the vein of Felt, Aztec Camera, and The Go-Betweens. Producer Dan Lissvik (STUDIO) produced their most album, Hit the Waves, and has seemingly advancing the group into even more polished heights. Some would call their previous work more entrenched in hitmaking new-wave, while this record takes a more breezily enjoyable atmospheric Balaeric route. Hit the Waves is distinctively vintage, indebted to everything from Philip Ekstrom’s vocals reminding of Robert Smith’s dark yearning to the twinkling reverb of the The Mary Onettes’ twinkling guitar-synth soundscapes. One highlight, “Blues”, is even surprisingly reminiscent of the bouncy keyboard-led pop of Supertramp. One of the new album’s most stunning tracks is “Unblessed”, led by caressing synth pads and slick bass reverberations. A minimal synth arpeggio creeps in slowly, as is the case in many Italo-disco and Balaeric gems, and Ekstrom’s vocals take off into its usual soaring peaks. “It’s more than just a bad dream,” he sings over enchanting melodies and beach-set ambiance. This is far from a nightmare. Much of Hit the Waves is pure bliss.