The Marica Frequency – The Clone

 The Marica Frequency – The Clone

The Marica Frequency – The Clone – Album Review

Alright…so…a couple things can be, and are true.  One is that, I’ve known The Marica Frequency has had some material banked-up & ready to roll since the last time I had reviewed their music – and the other thing is that, after having heard their previous record Delicate, I would have put them up there in the top five bands I wouldn’t have asked for anything else from; because what they had already given to the scene over this past year alone has been beyond remarkable.  Don’t get it twisted – I’m not saying I won’t always happily take MORE of what The Marica Frequency is putting out if they’ve got more tunes to release – that’s not the case at all & of course I will!  I’m simply saying that they’ve done more than their fair share of making 2020 a better year through these speakers and pages of ours here on the internet than the vast majority of what else has come through them.  What I heard on Delicate was a groundbreaking moment for this band based outta the UK…and another strong step forward in the right direction, which this Christopher John Evans-led project has been consistently making since day one.  So if you’re reading this correctly…you understand that, not only has The Marica Frequency already delivered one incredible album this year, they’re back with another – & YES, I’m excited about that fact!

“Cryostasis” opens the record like the dawning of a new day, with widespread sound washing warmly over you in a glowing expansive atmosphere, setting the stage for so much of what’s to follow later on throughout the gorgeous & graceful songs to be found on The Marica Frequency’s latest record, The Clone.  I know, I know…such an original beginning for me to write, ain’t it?  Not like the whole ‘dawning of a new day’ sentiment hasn’t been said in a million reviews outside of my own for various reasons, right?  Well I don’t know what to tell ya folks, it’s an accurate depiction of what you’ll find “Cryostasis” sounds like if I’m being honest…sometimes you just gotta call it like ya hear it.  BUT…if you want my real assessment…where a moment like this seemed to take me was actually into a really endearing childhood memory…one I’d even have to watch myself again, just to see if it actually makes any sense – but somehow in listening to “Cryostasis,” my mind actually jumped to the scenes with The Blue Fairy from the old Disney version of Pinocchio.  As I pointed out here on these pages of ours just the other day, music reviews can be about so many things…but to me, the most complimentary way to describe what music can really do, is to prove how incredible these moments can be when they connect to the strangest corners of your mind like this.  Honestly – when on earth was the last time I thought about The Blue Fairy from freakin’ Pinocchio, if I’ve EVER spent a spare thought on that character outside of watching that movie to begin with?  Association, and where music sends us in our minds, is one of the best aspects of a listening experience you can ever have, no matter where it is you end up – if you’re listening to something with the power to conjure imagery or memories along the way, believe me, you’ve found something special well worth your time, just like this record is.  All this might seem trivial to some of you…perhaps a few of you will get exactly what I’ve been saying here…to me, it’s tremendously exciting to know you’re about to embark on an audio adventure that’ll genuinely have you feeling something, whatever that may be.  I was downright fascinated by the fact that this first song drew this fragment of a memory out of my mind in relation to the comforting & soul-soothing aura of “Cryostasis.”  I suppose the day I’ll retire is the day I don’t feel the magic of moments like this come through; given how much I love this two-minute tune, I’d say we’re a long ways away from that day still.  An exquisite gateway in without a doubt, the gentle guitar added to the melody was the cherry on top.

I think the world of songs like “Stay In The Light,” and I think the performance you get out of Chris is superb.  From the moment it starts, this second cut remains stoic in the warmth created by “Cryostasis” and shifts seamlessly into the music of “Stay In The Light,” yet listen to the added intensity & sense of urgency in the pleading way Evans sings this song…the contrast is brilliant, impactful, and has us all listening to his every word.  The interpretive value in his words is amazing when it comes right down to it – you could think of anything from Sandra Bullock floating in space watching George Clooney fade away in Gravity, all the way to the battle for the good in a soul, or trying to hang on to the vision of a memory or ghost before it leaves you – maybe even The Blue Fairy before she drops her wisdom & jets out…and of course, there’s likely a solid chance it’s about something else altogether.  I’m at the very least reasonably sure it’s not based on Gravity…okay, I’m very sure – but you get where I’m going with the imagery this song conjures up.  It’s got a very hopeful but weary spirit at its core, and a truly unique design that, while challenging to the everyday listener to a degree, is also likely to win folks over quickly with the enchanting sound, endearing hooks, and highly interesting structure.  “Stay In The Light” doesn’t play like a typical tune does…in fact, you could argue that this might very well be the beginnings of an even larger project to come – there’s drama, there’s a theatrical element to the way it’s composed & performed…I mean, don’t quote me on this, but this would be perfect for a musical, wouldn’t you say?  Very cathedral-esque qualities to the entire sound…you could interpret this song and its main chorus hooks as a plea to the man upstairs directly even…and you might not be wrong in that assessment.  What’s crystal clear in listening to “Stay In The Light” regardless of what it makes you think of or where it’ll send you in your mind, is that we can all hear the stunning attention to detail, the sincerity in the sound of both the music & vocals of The Marica Frequency, and a song that subtly & fearlessly draws on its own artistic strengths, beyond comparison really to anything else.  There might be a piece, maybe, here & there that would remind you of something else like perhaps Spiritualized for the atmosphere or Beirut for the melody…but it would be pieces at best – The Marica Frequency is doing their own thing.  And for what it’s worth, they should be extremely proud of that…they’re fully in their prime right now & the outstanding ideas & music revealed throughout their last couple records completely proves all this.

I dig the innocence in the quaint & welcoming vibes on “Out Of Nowhere” – it’s got a like…low-key Death Cab For Cutie or Sparklehorse-esque kind of deal goin’ on, which of course, I love.  Another thing I tend to love about music and the results in great songwriting is how it can so often reflect the sentiment & meaning in multiple ways.  I listen to a track like “Out Of Nowhere” and feel like it’s about…well love to a large degree, but also about discovering that missing piece of yourself from “Out Of Nowhere” and realizing just how much you needed it.  I ended up feeling much the same about this song and its design; on their own, each individual component would have been pretty compelling to listen to quite likely, but still not enough somehow – but when combined together, you can hear how the magic in The Marica Frequency takes effect through the balance of their strengths and how well they complement each other.  So you get this like…very unassuming style of song…”Out Of Nowhere” is not going to punch you in the face to get your attention by any stretch of the imagination…but hopefully it earns it through the focus in their writing, the commitment in their performances, and the real heart you can hear in songs like this.  If there’s any knock against a song like “Out Of Nowhere” to be made, it’s simply that the…oh what is it…pan flute?  I’m not sure what it is…the opening of this cut likely has a sound in it that will still have people recalling Titanic, no matter how different it is from Celine’s mega-hit…but around the forty-five second mark, that’ll fade away and you’re on completely solid ground from there as the main hooks take shape.  Magnificent harmonies, 100% outstanding guitar playing & guitar tones…all-in-all, “Out Of Nowhere” becomes a truly extraordinary moment that earns your attention; it’s a truly beautiful tune.

You just can’t argue with bulletproof songwriting and stunning execution when you hear it in action – and “Don’t Hide Your Eyes” has the luxury of both elements at their maximum potential.  Every once in a while, you’ll find The Marica Frequency really finds the right spots in the music on their records to draw a moment out a lil’ longer for us all to enjoy.  At five & a half-minutes in length, you’ll be equally captivated, charmed, and fully mesmerized by the exquisite melody & hypnotic vibes they lock into here.  I’m tellin’ ya…test it out for yourself…I’d be willing to bet that if you put “Don’t Hide Your Eyes” on the ol’ repeat-1 function, that you’d likely let a whole hour or more slip by without hesitation & without noticing, just listening & spellbound by the beauty they’re creating here.  The TRUMPET!  At least I think that’s what it is…could be a horn or some other kind of brass…but man…I’m tellin’ ya folks, this is a whole song to be extraordinarily proud of, “Don’t Hide Your Eyes” is a genuine achievement, full-stop.  When you listen to the amazing way this song is constructed from the ground up, and the sheer multitude of layers & components from both the music & vocals that contribute to the overall composition & structure of this melody, it’s just straight-up beyond compare & absolutely magnificent.  Every piece of this song needs the rest, and The Marica Frequency has literally left nothing out – the build on “Don’t Hide Your Eyes” is so brilliantly subtle, gradual, and fluid, that most people would likely miss just how much goes into a song as masterfully constructed as this is…and I sincerely hope that no one does.  By far one of the most engaging melodies and well thought-out songs I’ve heard from start to finish in 2020 without question, “Don’t Hide Your Eyes” is the kind of cut you hear and just marvel at when you get right into the mechanics of what makes it all work…you can’t teach this kind of stuff – and that’s the exact reason why an artist like Christopher & his crew of talent do what they do so damn well.  Songs like this come from a place deep inside the soul…finding a melody like this is akin to unlocking one of the mysteries of the universe if you ask me, it’s that rare – yet at the same time, it’s important to note that these amazing moments come supremely naturally to The Marica Frequency.  That’s what I’m tellin’ ya folks…some have the connection to music that makes the difference, and this band has it in spades.  I again find myself in love with all the details they put in…listen to spots like just prior to the two-minute mark and the additional rhythm coming in to join the piano, vocals, and strings…or again thirty seconds, where the vocals slightly bend the melody to an even more perfect design as the music sparks to life around ya.  Another thirty-seconds in, you get that brilliant trumpet solo…and then thirty seconds after that, you won’t be able to take your ears off the incredible vocals & harmonies…and it just keeps on going, keeps on supplying the magic, keeps us locked within this extraordinary moment, and somehow enhances the whole experience of “Don’t Hide Your Eyes” piece by piece, part by part, start to finish.

On a creative, artistic, and audiophile level, I personally really dig on tracks like “The Process” and how they serve a function on the album overall to create decisive separation in between  the two halves of this record.  Does it have the hooks, pull, and enchanting allure of a song like “Don’t Hide Your Eyes” just had?  No!  Nothing close to it really…but that’s not the point, nor should it be with so many avenues of potential & possibility at the disposal of a band as talented & capable as The Marica Frequency is.  “The Process” gives you an effects-laden break in the middle of sorts…not necessarily an intro or an interlude…it’s still its own deal and bound to keep listeners like myself that dig on oddities like this fully sticking around…but it’s also much harder to argue on its behalf when it comes to being memorable by comparison to the majority of this lineup.  To be fair, like I was alluding to…not all songs are designed to be at the top of your playlists…some thrive right in the middle of a record like “The Process” does, and serve a function in the overall experience of listening to a complete set of tunes…so pay attention!  I’m personally just as attached to this as I was to the opening vibes on “Cryostasis” – I can acknowledge tracks like “The Process” aren’t intended to be the main meat in this sandwich, but they’re ingredients that still fully deserve to be included, and part of what makes this record such a tasty treat to listen to.

So many of these cuts have such exceptional atmospheric vibes & breathtaking melody combined, like you’ll find on “Once Upon A Time” – a song that sounds like a dream you once had.  Marisa Frantz…a singer I’ve had the pleasure of talking about specifically many times in these reviews I’ve written on The Marica Frequency…I tell ya…it’s just amazing when the highest of expectations can still somehow be exceeded, you feel me?  I try not to expect anything of anyone really…I’ve got hopes of course, but I try to limit it to that & not just somehow feel entitled to great music from those I know capable of creating it – but in hearing the immaculate performance that Frantz put into “Once Upon A Time,” I had to give my head a shake in wonder…like how is it that she can sound even better than the high bar she’s set in the past already?  Yet here we are, and arguably, that’s what’s happened.  I wouldn’t take one iota away from anything she’s contributed to The Marica Frequency in their past catalog to this point…and it could just be the excitement behind listening to an incredible new song…but this seems to my ears to be one of the best I’ve heard from her to-date so far.  I gotta admit, it’s quite nice to be this relentlessly impressed.  Sounding as breathtaking as can be, “Once Upon A Time” shows the depth of melancholy melody and how effective it can be; where Marisa is placed within the mix has her fairly enveloped by the music overall, which personally I like…and I think when you hear songs like this, it’s not so much about hearing every word to begin with, so much as it’s about connecting to the emotions presented.  The Marica Frequency makes that extraordinarily easy on all of us with their remarkable performances and recordings throughout The Clone, and “Once Upon A Time” is certainly included in that assessment.  They’ve really embraced the atmospherically-inclined & open-air aura in the spirit of their songwriting on this record, and the results continually shine with professionalism, spectacular sound, and true grace.  Using the space to their advantage, “Once Upon A Time” is a mesmerizing moment in time upon The Clone, and a song that highlights so much of what The Marica Frequency does so very, very well; from the essential piano & cello in the mix, to the epically subtle charm in the vocals…this is all top-shelf stuff.

“Breathless” indeed!  I mean, I’ve said more than a mouthful about this album already, and believe me, the music you’ll find on this album is worth plenty more than I could ever say.  Ultimately, it felt like this particular cut met the space between songs like “Cryostasis” and “The Process” with its atmospherically-inclined sound & artistic approach – but there is a significant difference in “Breathless” that gives this song a greater chance & opportunity at making a more lasting impact on listeners by comparison.  The Marica Frequency knows what that is, I don’t need to tell them – and when YOU listen to “Breathless” yourself, you’ll know exactly what I’m referring to.  Whereas both “Cryostasis” and “The Process” are shorter songs to begin with, and somewhat stick to the gear they start in – “Breathless” bursts open like a supernova in the middle in what’s arguably one of the most epic peaks the music on this entire record reaches.  It’s innovative & artistic, it still effectively communicates a ton of emotion & inspired sound, and “Breathless” for the most part, does it all without raising its pulse…the chilled-out & serene design of the way this track flows is as inviting as it gets…your ears so willingly follow wherever this band wants to lead you.  As it turns out, around the 1:50 mark, that’s in a direction you wouldn’t expect as they shift into a much more intense moment than where it all began, but as you drift back into the calm & comfort of the dreamy vibes afterwards, once again your ears recognize how these moments serve a purpose.

As “The Other Side” began, I couldn’t help but sit and marvel at the creativity flowing throughout the lineup of this record for a moment.  Quite simply, there’s just not enough music out there in the world being made like The Marica Frequency makes…which by definition makes them just as much of a rarity in this world as the proverbial diamond in the rough.  That being said, of all the cuts on this record, it did feel like “The Other Side” took a bit longer to find its legs & its main strengths – but it does indeed get there.  I mean look, I’ve obviously expressed my love for what Marisa brings to their music many times over – and she does a great job here in what’s a fairly loose & expressive design at first as “The Other Side” takes shape.  Where she shines most, and where The Marica Frequency at-large comes alive, is in the latter-half of “The Other Side” – which is just about as fantastic as any experience in music could ever be.  I dig the low-key approach they take as they build their way into the heart of “The Other Side” – but it’s never usually me that I’m all that concerned about…it’s the rest of the ears out there.  I have no doubt that the more avant-garde design of the opening to “The Other Side” will likely make it a more challenging listen to some like say, “Stay In The Light” was earlier on to a degree – but I can’t help that feel those who stick it out will be completely stoked on what they’ll find in how this song blossoms.  More or less an instrumentally-based final three-minutes or so, Frantz sinks beautifully into the background to strengthen the melody with very subtle harmonies, but listen to how inspired & lively the instrumentation suddenly becomes at that same time; it’s a brilliant transition.  As colorful as colorful can be – The Marica Frequency lets go for a moment here to jam it out in full glory, putting the personality of their musicianship into the spotlight to speak for itself in the second-half of “The Other Side” – they’ve got the advantage of two incredible singers, but hearing them take a significant portion of time throughout this record to highlight just how remarkable their compositions really are has been an extremely wise move.  An organic move mind you – this isn’t Chris & the crew shoving their talents in our faces at all; this is the sound of the authentic natural splendor this band is 100% capable of creating – they’re capable of it on many levels & they prove that within the one experience of “The Other Side.”

Good lordy folks…you hearing what I’m hearing, and do you get what I’ve been getting at?  LISTEN to the astounding opening to the final track “Roots” and try to convince me this isn’t seriously remarkable stuff in every conceivable way.  Practically the very definition of soul-soothing, were it not for the consistent additions of highly interesting sounds continually piquing your curiosity along the way – “Roots” glides like it’s floating on a cushion of air, yet it’s filled with unassumingly bold & powerful emotion, compelling you to listen through the extremely insightful composition & pure heart in the passion of the uniqueness it possesses.  I know I try folks, but I honestly can’t say enough about the incredible contributions that The Marica Frequency have made to the scene over these past couple years with Delicate and The Clone – there’s just simply no doubt about them being at their best, right now.  I listen to a track like “Roots” and instantly fall in love with it, every single time I hear it…there’s just nothing typical about it, and every single ticking second it has is fully loaded with immaculately enticing sound & engaging emotion.  It also feels like a genuine conclusion…you know this show is over with “Roots,” but through the strength of this entire lineup of songs on The Clone, you definitely know there’s more to come in the future from The Marica Frequency.  They’d be crazy to give up something as truly special as what they’ve got going on in this band…and you’d be equally insane to not be giving them a dedicated listen.  The artistic design…the sheer magnificence in the ideas, execution, and performance on “Roots” leaves you with one last amazing moment to enjoy…and if you’re listening with similar ears to the ones I’ve got, immediately induces the desire to repeat this record…not just the once, but several times…and for life.

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