Casual Confrontation – ‘Marriage Culture’

Nashville-based artist Casual Confrontation explores the concepts of marriage and self-love on the concept album Marriage Culture. Synth-pop production leans into the expressive, danceable vein with shades of ’80s and ’90s pop nostalgia alike. Catching songwriting touts vibrant, catchy production amidst thematic lyrical wit commentating on the role of marriage as an institution, personal connections, and ensuing reflection with an emphasis on self-love’s importance.

The album’s initial tracks convey an optimistic, bright allure — kickstarted by an introduction that samples Mariya Takeuchi’s nuptial-minded 1984 single. This throwback sound proves apt, in capturing the warm glow of yesteryear propelled by kindly affections and carefree infatuation. Proclamations of adoration are furthered on the subsequent “Now That I’m In Love,” gearing into a spirited synth-pop hook with title-touting charm. The track captures the breath-of-fresh-air feeling when one gets over an ex and embarks on a new journey.

The emotive synth swells of “To Belong” builds with climactic spirit, recalling Erasure and Pet Shop Boys in its glitzy ’80s synth-driven engrossment. Vibrant keys and brassy adornments add alongside the vocals, culminating in a more dance-friendly pop sound. Marriage Culture consumes with a knack for creative structural unfolding, featuring striking differentiation while retaining a cohesive melodic flow, and tracks like “To Belong’ are exemplary of such.

“But they’re just kids with kids,” the vocals let out during the sensational chorus on “Kids With Kids,” capturing the jump into parenthood that many young couples embark upon, even while still feeling like kids themselves. This success channels a more ’90s-forward pop nostalgia with its pulsating central hook and vocal charisma. Marriage is full of complexities, with the decision to multiply being one of them, and “Kids With Kids” firmly captures the sentiment.

“Marry Me” excels in a rebellious spirit, capturing the decision to wed, even in the face of some doubts. “Wedding Evite Song” follows up on that decision, all while reminding “it’s not too late to change your mind.” Subsequent synth-forward pulses complement the new-found doubts, as the big day approaches. These two tracks stir in conveying relatable doubt, even as invitations are about to go out.

The album’s final turn is evident by the titles alone, with tracks like “It Is Hell With My Soul” and “And I’m The Devil” confronting a more abrasive, critique-ready relationship. The finale, “Now Kindly Undo These Straps,” feels like a farewell song with its bass-laden grooves and eerie synth-led soundscape. “Looks like we’re tied to each other, by our fears,” the vocals admit, then urging to “kindly undo these straps,” as a symbolic gesture to a relationship’s dissolution. Consuming across its 17 tracks, Marriage Culture is a heartfelt, conceptual success from Casual Confrontation.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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