Galway’s six piece folk pop collaborative, My Fellow Sponges are a magnificently hard working band, having toured around Ireland playing festivals and shows in support of their debut full length, 2013’s Bonne Nuit, an album of short and mildly melodic songs heavily steeped in folk. The ten songs on Bonne Nuit possessed an unabashed playfulness which lent itself to making the record sound as though it was made by a band who was not taking their musical aspirations all that seriously.
All that seems to have changed, as is evidenced on their stunning new four song EP, Something Like Light. Something Like Light illuminates the individual talents of each of My Fellow Sponges six members, and when listened to alongside Bonne Nuit, one is able to hear and appreciate what it’s like for a band to grow its sound. The instrumentation and vocalization on Something Like Light outshines Bonne Nuit by far not to mention the stunning production value.
On Something Like Light vocal duties are split three ways between guitarist Donal McConnon, pianist Anna Mullarkey, and Elva Carroll who also plays the harmonium. The opening track “Floating” makes good use of the trio’s mixed melodies. McConnon’s distinct sounding vocals resonate well with sweet mixture of backing vocals provided by Mullarkey and Carroll. Musically the song skips along in a rather sing-songy way led along back jazzy scat guitar licks and playful piano licks.
The aforementioned upping of chops by My Fellow Sponges really begins to be showcased on the sweeping and lovely “Cold Winter,” on which Mullarkey and Carroll blend their beautiful voices together on this stark piano ballad.
The frolicking finger picking of the acoustic guitar along with the harmonium on “All We Need” brings Something Like Light back to the lighter side of things. It is essentially a short and sweet, and also loving lament on love.
Something Like Light ends with the powerfully piano driven “Other Than Myself.” It begins quietly with just a simple and catchy piano scale which runs throughout, and then begins to grow, taking on the harmonium, pounding drums reminiscent of the kind the Indians would beat before going into battle, as well as thundering bass thumps, all smoothed out by the strings of the cello. Though it is the operatic-sounding vocal duet between Mullarkey and Carroll which really helps “Other Than Myself” to stand out.
With an EP this fully realized for a young band, Something Like Light is pretty special, especially when compared to their previous effort. My guess is as My Fellow Sponges continue on, their music will only continue to take on new dimensions, and that is definitely something I look forward to hearing.
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