Friday, October 7, 2011

Album review: Motopony (s/t)

There have been a few occasions when my introduction to a new artist has gone something like this: I hear one song, and really like that song, so I buy their album. Then it turns out that the song I really liked is easily my favorite song on the album. Even if I still enjoy the rest of the album, it's a disappointing thing to have happen.

But there are also happy occasions when the opposite occurs. On the basis of one song, I get an album - and it turns out that the album is far beyond anything I could have imagined from that single song. That's what happened to me with Motopony.

The song? "King of Diamonds." It's gotten some buzz in recent months, and for good reason. It's a really nice, folksy pop tune, good music for chilling out on a summer day. (I'm a little late writing this review - I did get into Motopony over the summer. It's appropriate, I guess, that today felt like a perfect summer day, despite it being October!) Amazon had the song for free and I decided to check it out, and enjoyed it enough to take a chance on the self-titled debut album. If the rest of the album had been made up of songs of a similar style and quality to "King of Diamonds," I wouldn't have been disappointed. But I got much, much more.

In a certain sense, I'd compare this album to Bon Iver's latest. I wouldn't say that Motopony sounds just like Bon Iver (maybe a little) but there is a similarity in that, at its heart, this is a guy with a guitar playing folk music, but then it pulls in all sorts of eclectic instrumentation and stylistic influences and becomes a wonderfully diverse (yet cohesive) collection of songs. The pleasant pop sounds of "King of Diamonds" are followed by the catchy soul of "Seer." But it's on the second half of the album when the music really transforms into something beautiful. Piano, synth, acoustic guitar, and vocals all play off each other wonderfully over the heavy, syncopated backing beat of "God Damn Girl." "Wait For Me" wanders into dream pop territory, and it's just a really gorgeous track.

"Wake Up" is another standout, adding to the list of great songs called "Wake Up." (Seriously, why are there so many songs called "Wake Up," and why is it that when a band I like has a song called "Wake Up" it's invariably one of my favorite songs by that artist? Arcade Fire, Ozma, Mad Season...) Clocking in at over six and a half minutes, it's a haunting slow burner that starts out with just acoustic guitar and Daniel Blue's vocals, with some powerful lyrics (What if these drugs aren't the problem?/What if my freedom's hiding just outside my reach?/What if I never hit bottom?/How far can I go fallin' 'fore I realize fallin's free?) As the song builds in intensity, insistent xylophone and synth parts join in for a dramatic, but not overstated, climax, before the song settles back down. One last track follows, and "Euphoria" is another beautiful song.

Since I discovered Motopony a couple of months ago, their album has become one of my most listened to of the year. They appear to be a band on the rise, and with this great collection of songs, they deserve all the success they get. Check them out!

One more note - I wasn't sure for a while how to pronounce the band's name - mo-TOP-on-y or MO-to-po-ny. It's apparently the latter.

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