Oh boy, well, to the members of Thee Marquees I regret to inform you, but you have REALLY stepped in it now. You see, you all hail from Evanston, IL which just so happens to be where yours truly was spawned. So now, you have to deal with this old, and very jaded hag judging your album with the steely eyed stare of a ravenous hawk. As soon as I saw where you came from I said out loud, "Oh you better be good." You gotta understand, like John Cusack, I plan to never set foot in ETHS (Evanston Township High School) ever again given the misery I endured there. So yeah, you guys had a lot working against you when your album Burnout Beautiful fell into my lap this week. The verdict is this album smashed my bitter adolescent angst into oblivion. It's a wildly inventive beauty that had me grinning with hometown pride the entire time.
Alright, enough sentiment, let's get to what makes this album work. Burnout Beautiful, hot damn I love that name, is a collection of indie rock tunes with a vintage psych edge. Some are more like jam sessions while some have pluckier almost ska like structure. I cannot stress enough how incredible the guitar work is on here. Delicate and playful riffs fashioned together that created enveloping melodies I just wanted to get lots in. Drumming and percussion elements on here are also worth an honorable mention. So much range in terms of rhythm, so many schools of thought and approaches. Of course a big winner on here is the vocal work which brought so much fun and theater like elements to the album. On a lyrical level, as a writer myself, there were several songs where the words were just downright extraordinary. All pistons firing on this one.
For me, the big seller here is the layering. Their signature move is to carefully and ever so thoughtfully stack together layers of live and electronic elements. Lots of little thin layers and details, this took a steady hand in terms of production. Speaking of production, the wild spectacle that is this album was a DIY project courtesy of Logic Pro. The recording was done with a 8-Track Motu 896 which is a solid piece of hardware in my opinion. I like that there was clearly experimentation in terms of mixing and mastering. There were a few songs where they were able to sculpt a 3-D effect where the song literally reaches out to you using a flux of negative and positive space.
It's not just a matter of personal pride that I recommend this one. Thee Marquees earned it. There are songs where it's more a musical theater experience, and while I prefer the latter, I know there are many that would appreciate it. I imagine it is fantastic live and wouldn't you know it, these guys have been gigging around town. I never got too far from Evanston now living in Chicago so that means I will hopefully have the pleasure of catching a show soon. This album is an indulgent and radical experience. Dig in and check it out.
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