Published Jan 01, 2006A half decade of silence followed this Montreal bands debut album, Galax.Sea, but this remarkable sophomore return shows that the revamped quintet used the time wisely. They describe their sound as "experimellow nouveau psychedelique and "post-pop, twisting and turning overused terms the way they draw new life from over-trodden musical territory, dodging so many of the traps set for them. Theres something Eastern about Alex Olsens vocals on the lead track, "Roman Empire, a mantra to match the psychedelic wave that washes over the song and trickles through the rest of the LP, but no crusty hippie breadcrumbs are left in its wake. Similarly, guitarist and songwriter Joseph Donovan doesnt muzzle his old shoegazing fanaticism, or even his teenage goth past, yet these strains come to the surface in traces (or tracers, if you will), devoid of heavy-handedness. Instead, the band aspires to the freeform constructs of minimal, experimental techno while maintaining tenderness through shimmering, organic arrangements and vocals. The bachelor pad pop that characterised early Marlowe remains in the sci-fi keyboards and ladylike vocals, but there are no resoundingly familiar echoes, and Olsens carefully chosen words are economically placed, planted to flourish alongside the blooming sounds, not to overshadow them.
What does the album title refer to? Olsen: Sitting at the Mad Hatters tea party being tickled by God. Donovan: Its as if youre the Pillsbury Doughboy and he, in this case, is the pudgy finger that does the belly-poking.
Lyrically, what inspired "Roman Empire? Are you bridging the personal and the political? Or the domestic and the global. It came to me one day as I walked past a bunch of native guys, drunk and asking for change. It was one of those wintry days in Canada when you cant help but wonder why your parents decided to stay here. I guess its about waking up one day and realising that youre a monster that likes to devour other peoples countries for breakfast.
What style is Marlowe most often associated with? People tend to link us with whatever form of psychedelic music theyre familiar with: shoegazer, post-rock, ambient or trip-hop, and for some sad souls it still means "Whoa, Pink Floyd, dude! Our songs are somewhat introspective and microcosmic, like ambient or experimental music, but in the way that we write, these elements often come out in a warmer, more poppy form. This can be confusing. (Universal)