Magdalena Bay ‘Mercurial World’ Review
Mercurial World ~ Magdalena Bay Review
Drew’s Ranking: 5/5
Indie pop duo Magdalena Bay’s major debut effort is overflowing with sparkling, pristine, hits. What Mercurial World lacks in specific sound or shape, it makes up for in the transitional cohesiveness and concept surrounding the magnificent project. For these reasons, it is easily one of the best records of 2021.
The Creation of Mercurial World
Magdalena Bay formed in 2016 while both members were still attending college in different states in the US.
Mica Tenembaum and Matthew Lewin met in high school, and at the time formed a short-lived prog-rock band together. What the pair has accomplished since then is history. Since the TikTok virality of their 2019 single, “Killshot”, Lewin and Tenembaum have been curating the most effective pop album to be released in 2021. Mercurial World is a testament to the popular music that has been on the radio for the past three decades. And Magdalena Bay’s superpower is that they take these sounds and shape them into more well-rounded tracks.
The title track includes a sinister beat that hits hard during the beginning. And then the chorus comes in with a beautiful vocal overlay from Tenembaum and a more captivating production. Track three, “Dawning of The Season” switches up the pace effortlessly as if it was meant to be placed there. The bass and drum kick carries the groove of the song. Occasionally being accompanied by synths that come soaring in during the chorus.
The Power of Transitions
Towards the end of “Dawning of The Season”, a key change takes place that certainly takes one by surprise, yet feels exciting to anticipate even after several listens. Shortly after, the song scales upwards and transitions into “Secrets (Your Fire)”. The switch is so smooth and timed right it could take the listener a couple of seconds before realizing what has just occurred. Speaking of “Secrets (Your Fire)”, this song is filled with sonically pleasing piano chords and a bass line that feels even heavier, yet more subdued than the one throughout “Dawning of The Season”. The synth is more present too, as “You Lose!” comes wailing in. A highlight of the record and one of the best pop songs of the year, “You Lose!” feels like an imagination running wild.
From my perspective, the experience is similar to being trapped inside a Super Nintendo Entertainment System. With the retro instrumental and muffled vocals from Tenembaum covering the song in glossy nostalgia. “Something for 2” takes the noise down a notch, whilst delivering a catchy tune at the same time. Towards the end, however, a single synth arpeggio can be heard in the background, slowly building and becoming faster and faster as the track transitions into “Chaeri”, which is defined by the darker, all-encompassing production that listeners heard glimpses of on the title track. This song delivers in terms of a solid chorus, creative verses, and an ending that is musically terrifying and beautiful to the ear all at once.
The Interesting Interludes
“Halfway” is an interesting interlude that openly compliments “The End” and “The Beginning”, showing the range of Magdalena Bay’s power as album creators. They help build a more solid image of what Tenembaum and Lewin are trying to accomplish with this record. It should be noted that the album starts with “The End” and ends with “The Beginning”. Listen to them carefully and you may hear similarities as well. This sort of delicate placement goes unnoticed when not pointed out yet is appreciated by the avid listener.
It doesn’t take very long before Mercurial World’s hits kick back in, with “Hysterical Us” being another main highlight from the set of tracks. It is the duo’s strongest song lyrically on the album, and the spotlight is clearly put directly on it. More stripped back than the other tunes, the song is filled with upbeat and feel-good instrumentals. Which completely contrast the dark and explorative lyrics that cover the track. “Prophecy” is the signature chill track on Mercurial World, followed by “Domino” and “Dreamcatching”, which follow suit as more soft dream pop renditions.
Pop records that sound as catchy and groovy as this one on the first listen? They tend to become even more enjoyable to listen to as time passes and they age. Magdalena Bay managed to create an album that somehow does both. These songs feel fresh and modernly crafted with vintage, aged sounds that make you question, “Have I heard this before?” Overall, Mercurial World is a wonderful statement of innovation in music.
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