Sunday, October 28, 2007
The Mary Onettes
Review by Margaret Reges, All Music Guide
Swedish indie acts are notorious imitators, and The Mary Onettes are no exception. Their eponymous debut sounds eerily familiar -- there's the synthiness and jumpy new wave basslines of Echo & the Bunnymen ("Void" is a good example) and just a touch of jangly R.E.M. guitar work ("Pleasure Songs"). In this respect, the Mary Onettes could be lumped in with other Scandinavian shoegaze worshippers, and those familiar with Swedish indie pop will no doubt reach for comparisons to bands like Lane and Celestial. All of this sounds great on paper, and to be honest the album itself sounds pretty darn good at first. "Pleasure Songs" does a great job of blending their jangly alt-rockiness with their shoegaziness, and for all its familiarity it sounds quite fresh. Sadly, the remainder of the album relies on nondescript, by-the-book synth-pop fare, and the album suffers as a result. The Mary Onettes are literally consumed by their influences, and there's little to distinguish them from the Bunnymen. Now, relying on an array of tried-and-true shoegaze clichés does not a bad record make, and the Mary Onettes manage to do justice to their synthy trappings. This album is more than merely listenable; to be perfectly honest, it's essentially a technically flawless debut. The songs are catchy, the atmosphere is pleasantly foggy, and Philip Ekström is a subtle and versatile vocalist to boot. But the band leans too heavily on its influences, and when it comes right down to it there's very little difference between the Mary Onettes and Echo & the Bunnymen. So why not just cut out the middleman and listen to the real thing? The Mary Onettes, barricaded as they are in their influences, offer little reason not to. Not on this release, at any rate.