Sometimes I sit down and listen to haphazardly made music that was written in a month’s time and produced even quicker than that, and, although it can be good, it’s oftentimes difficult to separate the quality of performance and production from the music itself, causing the articulation of the songwriting to drastically suffer.
However, Hell Is Other People, the sophomore release by Toronto based My Lovely Son, is the antithesis of this notion. Every note that I heard seemed delicately planned and articulated to its truest potential. When listening to this album, it is obvious right out of the gate how much work was exerted into the writing and creation of the music, and in this age of seemingly endless digitally distributed music, it is really refreshing hearing a talented unsigned artist put this much effort into his work. Hell Is Other People is a good example of what spending proper time on one’s project can do.
The word that immediately jumps to my mind when thinking about My Lovely Son’s music is gentle. Whether it be the vocals, instrumentation or dynamics of the music, I think the word “gentle” fits each facet like a glove. Even the build-ups seem to remain floating in the aural cloud that surrounds Hell Is Other People. Although the music itself did seem to be floating, it, to me at least, presented itself as very dark, which can perhaps be attributed to the “arduous” process that My Lovely Son endured in order to make this album. Although the songs are dark in nature,
I still sensed some thematic light, demonstrated in songs such as “Children.” Even “Misleading You,” the intro of which reminded me of Radiohead’s “How to Disappear Completely,” seemed to hint at some hopeful sentiments.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of Hell Is Other People is the layering. “Confession” demonstrates My Lovely Son’s ability to meld his solemn, acoustic side with classical instruments such as the violin. “Communion” shows his more alternative side, mixing synthesizers, samples and guitar.
Again, every detail of this album seems intentional, and the complexity of a lot of the instrumentation illustrates why such a product is so hard to get right. Sure, it is easy to play something and think that it is good enough, but it’s another thing to wait until each sound is exactly how one wants it to be, and I commend My Lovely Son for pursuing the latter.
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