It is always interesting to hear about the ways in which musicians come to want to devote their lives to playing music. For some it’s their parents record collection or their parents themselves are musicians, some people seem just to fall into it and for others like Olivia Mainville, they discover it while they are young and it soon becomes a vocation which to deviate from would be unthinkable. Fast forward from the fifth where the young Mainville learned to play standup bass and viola to a festival gig after which she realized her great urge to perform live music, which then led to the release of her first gypsy folk inspired EP Full Steam Ahead.
On her debut full length Maybe The Saddest Thing along with her band The Aquatic Troupe comprised of Andy Fettig, Bleu Quick, Libby DeCamp and Ian Burke, Mainville has set out to build on that folk and gypsy sound, something which she does, taking the folky instruments and using them to show their use in the more poppier realms of music, something which artists have been doing with varying amounts of success for some time over the past two decades, think Joanna Newsmen, etc.
Between Mainville and her four band mates they play collectively eleven different instruments ranging from guitar and violin to the trumpet, accordion, and the omnichord. From the get go on Maybe the Saddest Thing beginning with the infectious brass blown and banjo plucked melody on “Qualities” one pictures this song running in the background of a GAP commercial. Much of this is also due to Mainville’s cutely distinct vocals which depending on how she drawls out her words can sound playful at times and at other times seductive. The playfulness comes out in “Qualities” and we are introduced to the more seductive side on “Only So Young.”
Maybe the Saddest Thing is best when it sticks to the folky upbeat pop songs like “Some Other Day” with its ragtime piano and scuffling drum beat, and the equally eclectic and charming “Suitable Fellow,” the second of which deals with a darker subject matter yet pulls it off. However when Mainville and company try to approach this darker territory without bustle and brass, like on “I Need Time” and “Commercial Art” they show their weaknesses (although not as strongly) as they had shown their strengths on their more upbeat offerings.
The irony here is of course the title. On Maybe the Saddest Thing, the saddest thing I found was that the band stopped doing what they do best, which is to write infectiously eclectic pop songs which were made to be played on the stage. The idea of this sweet dream interrupted by ballads is a sad thing. That being said Maybe the Saddest Thing is certainly worth more then a moment of your time. Recommended
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