I M U R's Pop Hedonism Has Depth on 'My Molecules'
Published Jun 25, 2021On My Molecules, I M U R singer Jenny Lea often sound like she's given up. The songs are full of Lea's stories of co-dependency and self-medicating, all delivered through the enabling vernacular of pop hedonism (boozing, blazing, fucking) — but the group resist romanticizing the excess they're describing.
Even when recalling trips around the world that end in marathon booty calls with a partner on "Himme Right," the luxed-up sexcapades are rendered as empty endeavours, scenes of physical intimacy articulated in terms of wage labour exploitation while producers Mikey J Blige and Amine Bouzaher summon a heaving bass beat that repeats like the nagging reminder of whatever work engagement will tear the couple apart next: "You've been working overtime like all night," she sings, "12 hours of head / Eight weeks in bed."
On "Case of You," Lea describes a relationship she feels more instinctually than she does on any deep emotional level, a dynamic compared to guzzling weekend warrior boilermakers while interpolating Joni Mitchell: "I could drink a case of you / I don't need no chase with you / I just love the taste of you." The metaphor for substance abuse is apt; Lea isn't living these interactions so much as metabolizing them to fill time and cancel herself out. And the multi-entendres are weary if compelling wordplay that pack bummers like nesting dolls.
Pop's now-ubiquitous trap snares trickle throughout the album, establishing the production within well-trodden territory, but Blige and Bouzaher decorate the rhythms with gloomy chords and sad music box twinkling, evoking a lifestyle more mundane and barren than the kinetic hustling the sound is typically associated with. On the opening title track, sci-fi vocals get at the truth of what's wrong with so much of the behaviour described throughout the album, but it's heavily modulated and sounds like it's being held under water: "Normalcy is my only complex / I crossed the seas to fight / You said I was brave / When I ran away."
It isn't until the back end of the album that Lea starts to get a clearer picture, and she acknowledges a wider circle here. On "Sad Girls Club," Lea's vocals layer to harmonize with each other as she describes finding sobriety, and she gives the exchange rate of her transactional relationships ("I give, you take") a name on "Bad Love," "Spent" ("All that glitters is not gold") and "Worst Behavior," enlisting the help of rapper Mauvey to drop some tough love group therapy on the latter: "We need referees, plural, to end our fights."
By album closer "Gravity," Lea hasn't shaken off everything that's been weighing her down and she still acknowledges an escapist pull, but there's a clarity and an intention to Lea's flow as she sings "I wanna forget my problems / Ain't it a bitch gotta solve em" over cloudy atmospheres and chiming guitars. When she declares, "I'm in a rocket ship up to outer space," you get the sense she doesn't feel the barriers to her recovery in the same way, the liquid state she was drowning in turned to gas.
When you look deep enough into its void, My Molecules is less about acknowledging one's true nature than it is about discovering a capacity for change — for something new, for something more. (Distorted Muse)