This ‘Marrow’ article was written by Adam Stevenson, a GIGsoup contributor
In an industry pushed mostly by show-stopping bands that pack a punch or deliver catchy chorus lines shrouded by repetitive guitar riffs, it’s not often you find a band that display themselves to you as a delicate, complex but subtle gift the way Marrow have with their first full-length album, ‘The Gold Standard’.
The four-piece – originating from Chicago, Illinois – consisting of the rustic voice of Liam Kazar balanced against the angelic, soft Macie Stewart have cited everyone from The Beatles to David Bowie as their immediate influences, but it’s the newer kids on the block that shine through as their sources of inspiration. Arcade Fire, Yo La Tengo and even a hint of Marina And The Diamonds glisten through each song like gold in muddy water.
They say that in most cases you can judge the feel of an album on the first three tracks alone, but to say this about ‘The Gold Standard’ would be a complete injustice to the folk behind it, as they bring you something which isn’t easy or common in today’s market. They sway between styles and genre with ease, thus leaving you with something of a mesh of head-swaying melodic jazz and a perfectly organised rock-pop sound with both elements sometimes seeming to both play with each other, as well as against.
The opening track, ‘She Chose you’, spearheaded by Liam Kazar, is dreamlike with its ‘90s alt-rock vibes and delicate piano accompaniment coupled with touches of electronic sounds that remind you of a text-based adventure game. Next, we are invited into a jungle feel with Macie Stewart taking the reins on ‘Darling Devine’. The song is set alight by the seduction in her voice played against a backdrop of eerie raindrop piano, at times descends into the chaotic, and a bass line that delivers itself like a heartbeat. Once again on ‘Paulson’ we are treated to a different sound. Something about it mirrors the sort of sound you’d expect from Courtney Love and Hole or Tacocat. Macie leaves her soft, nurturing voice to deliver a strong and forceful sound you would expect from a seasoned punk rock singer.
The highlight of the album comes in the form of ‘Corsicana’ – easily their best song. A clear indication for their love of well-written and performed tracks, it has John Lennon written all over it. You are invited in with a downbeat feel before being thrust into an energetic push of combined guitar and piano worthy of the late, great man himself. You are left with the haunting words “nothing’s ever lost, you’re on your own”.
It’s not often that a band can surprise you like Marrow. Rather than inviting you to sing along or dance around, they offer you the most simple of options that these days most don’t: to sit and listen as they deliver something that’s anything but standard.
‘The Gold Standard’ is out now on Foxhall Records.