Graham Reid | | 1 min read
About 16 months ago Elsewhere gave a Heads Up on an impending album by this group out of New York (here). As far as I can tell the impending album never arrived . . . but this seems to be it.
A long time in the pot, obviously.
Now a fully formed band around singer-songwriter Todd Michaelsen, this album has a chest-swelling urgency in places which belies its long gestation period. The heroic Love Anthem commands "we need love, we need hope . . . you can't dance on the backs of the poor, you can't dance like that no anymore . . . if you can hear us, we're calling out". With a massive, orchestrated stridency it is hard to turn away from.
Michaelsen is a singer of great expressive power (people have said "Thom Yorke" but he has a more dark tenor boom when required) but is equally at home pulling back to an acoustic ballad (Siren, which you could imagine him singing in a cafe).
There is some of that emotional and sonic breadth of Arcade Fire at work (the Cinerama-pop of Crystal Ball, the throbbing pulse of Flow) but you sense MPD have come to this point by their own route. (Michaelsen's career is certainly interesting if you check that earlier reference.) And they don't shy away from using synth programming as much as electric guitars when the song requires it. (Lightning Inside sounds very Eighties.)
There are subtle references to the Beach Boys' sophisticated sound here (Darling), Michaelsen writes a classy pop song (the older Lover in Hiding still stands in this company) but they also manage to rock out (the power pop of Songbird).
With contributions by members of Mercury Rev and Gov't Mule, and produced by Stephen George of Ministry, this one has guts, sinew and songs. And that's a good, if sometimes breathlessly churning and neo-psychedelic, mix.
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