By Jonah Cashel, Contributor
[Fiction Records; 2022]
Key tracks: “Life’s a Bitch (But I Like it so Much)”, “Hung Up”, “Under Your Skin”, “All These Things”
Liverpool rock group The Mysterines released their debut Album, Reeling this March. The record exploded immediately, reaching top 10 on the UK charts before the end of the month and garnering millions of listeners in weeks. The album captures exactly what rock music today should sound like, perfectly blending a slew of great influences while equally focusing on the unique meta-frustrations of today.
Read more: Album Review: Rex Orange County – WHO CARES?
The record folds out like an anthology of the past 2 years as if it was written by some of the greatest rock bands since the 90s. It is immediately reminiscent of the dark dramatic sound of early Nirvana or Hole — but as it plays, it continuously takes notes from groups like The Strokes, Paramore, Metric, and others that were in their prime throughout the early 2000s. This effect combined with the group’s refreshingly honest lyrics and sound caters the album perfectly to this generation’s tastes. It is sure to be something good when a band can force the listener to reckon with the present while also conjuring such strong nostalgia.
This album is the result of two years of production under lockdown which shines through in a number of ways. The extended time spent on crafting this project has given it an incredibly well-rounded and polished sound. At the same time, the emotional drain of creating in those conditions is clear from the start with the opening track “Life’s a Bitch (But I Like it So Much)” — which is fairly self-explanatory.
The delayed release put a lot of stress on the band, but it also granted their work a level of maturity it might not have had before. As lead singer, Lia Metcalfe, put it in an interview with DIY Magazine, “I had time to try to craft a definitive story on the album: ‘What else can I say now? How far can I take my ideas?” This is what allowed for such an intense shift from the ‘life’s a bitch’ mentality to the profound realization of ‘but I like it’. What could have been an incredibly shallow start to the album became something much more with lyrics like “Life can be a bitch, but you wouldn’t be without / Just bе sure to change the words before you spit them out”
The record shows equal mastery of lyrical depth and rhythmic excitement with each song containing varying levels of both, keeping the listener on their toes from start to finish. The second track “Hung Up” comes across as a regular breakup rock song until you take a closer look at the lyrics. It manages to capture the complexity of a real relationship that so many love songs miss, while upholding that badass, vengeful sound The Mysterines do so well.
“Under Your Skin” is another track that shows off the lyrical excellence of this record. The slow thumping sound of this song along with Metcalfe’s intense growling vocals perfectly match the lyrics which read like spoken-word gothic poetry. This creates an almost trancelike effect, forcing you to close your eyes and pay attention to every beat and every phrase. The result is cathartic, like a bloodcurdling scream into an empty void.
It’s a dark album in many ways but it’s still teeming with passionate energy, likely because many of the lyrics come from Metcalfe’s writings as a teenager. The intensely intimate feeling of these songs is what ties them together. Because of this, the group could make a much happier song like “All These Things” fit perfectly in the midst of all that moodiness. The early 2010’s pop feeling of this track gives the whole record the extra kick it needs, perfectly timed at the third song from last, before getting into its emotional close. In every way, this band violently resists classification — synthesizing grunge, heavy metal, indie rock, and pop punk into something so beautifully post-rock it is sure to set a standard for years to come. Considering the power packed into these thirteen songs (not to mention being released by Fiction Records, whose track-record includes Crystal Castles, Tame Impala, and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Reeling is guaranteed to leave a mark on the industry.