The Maelstrom EP from Optimist Park aka Jeremy Mullins sounds like demo tapes you would expect to come out from Bradford Cox’s bedroom for his project Atlas Sound. The EP is full of great ideas that never get fully realized because of subpar production. Mullins covers his vocals and pretty much everything else in a copious amount of hall reverb that ends up creating waves of atmospheric white noise.
Mullins is college student who like many other aspiring musicians on a budget is trying to make due with the consumer gear he has the budget for. I think Mullins for the most part does a pretty job and a lot of his ideas are strong enough to get past the aesthetic quality of the songs.
I’m not sure why Mullins decided to starts with “hers” because out of the five songs this one suffers the most from detrimental production. The song was too muddy for my ears but the second track “hydrodynamics” is much improved in every area. It sounds more open, less muddy, etc. He combines programmed drums, with spacey sound guitars and reverb soaked vocals. I’m not going to compare this to My Bloody Valentine but do think that they might have been an influence here. Mullins vocal melody is quite melodic and gets better upon repeated listens.
“they were like wild beasts” was the strongest track on the EP. Mullins delivers his best vocal performance. He sings “what would they think of us // if we carried on this way? it doesn't matter i guess // it had to happen someday when i kissed you on the ferris wheel // i was really thinking of falling it doesn't matter i guess // it had to happen someday”.
The closing track “for bryn mawr” is an ambient soundscape. It was a decent effort but didn’t offer the subtleties and dynamics you would expect from a exceptional soundscape.
It’s obvious Mullins is a work in progress but definitely knows what he likes. There are pockets of potential here and hopefully we can hear more refined work from Mullins in the future.
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