To make it crystal-clear once and for all – there are only two ways in making music: Finding your formula and perfecting it or hunting for new grounds all the time. Both (!) can be exciting and even though I love bands looking for new hunting grounds a lot, I must pay my utmost respect to bands who keep on refining their formula. Where Mermaids Drown is one of the latter and man, they surely are on a road aiming for global respect on their new record Reminisce!
Many people wrinkle their noses at the term and genre Post-Rock, but let me assure you – there is some haunting beauty, some dazzling melancholy, some miraculously enchantment inherent in well-made Post-Rock and Lyon, France-based quartet Where Mermaids Drown provide all of that. Sitting here with my headphones on, I find myself nodding my head in that always-recognizable mixture of fascination, admiration and that slight swagger which is not even close to hip-hop-heads nodding to their beats.
The sounds to incite that slight bodily movement are always so much on point of being pointy and poignant. Much of that is due to the really beautiful production and mastering of the six tracks, each single note and alteration shines through and on the bigger picture purveys a lot of strong emotions. The two best songs are surely ”Rio Plata” and ”Statues Learn to Weep” and both are also very different in their songwriting, structures and soundscapes. While the latter track, which is the longest one with more than eleven minutes, is really powerful and the closest to Post-Metal that the band has ever been. Nevertheless there are many spiraling guitar lines on here, too, but they are somewhat drowned by the heavy riffs that seem to battle each other for pole position. It comes as a bit of a surprise when the rumbling deep bass sets the tone and slowly introduces the melancholic yet dreamy ending of the track. ”Rio Plata” on the other hand is a magical song that would also not disappoint on a Calexico record, for its wonderfully sparkling guitar lines that glitter like the last beams of sunlight in the desert along the American-Mexican border in California and in Arizona (and yes, I know that the Rio de la Plata is the river between Argentina and Uruguay, but the track here is less Tango and more Desert Rock). That moment in the middle when the track opens up, the drums become more obvious and the volume is set a bit louder, that single moment of joyfulness is already worth the whole album. Here the guitar lines seem to trickle down from a wire and then they pick up pace and the song is moving towards its grand finale.
Even though the record stands on its own, one must mention its theme: Our human memory and our ability to reminisce in our whole compendium of saved impressions with all its connections to rationality, memory, sensory awareness and much more. One inspiration for the record was the cult movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind which of course also deals with human memory and why it is important for our ability to love and for whom we love in general. Nevertheless, do not imagine the record to be a re-narration of the movie, it took its inspiration from it, but does not aim for being a (new) soundtrack to the movie.
Reminisce is basically a must-hear for genre-fans for every track offers a brilliant new soundscape and leads us further on said road to a global level of acknowledgment from lovers of crescendos, loud vs quiet, build-ups and fade-outs. The French are going strong on their road to perfecting their own formula.
PS: If you want to know more about the record – watch out interview with drummer Jean-Sebastian: