There seems to be an often overlooked variable in music, something that has a profound effect on an artist’s long term success: Personality. The feeling that you not only can relate to the artist, but that you know them better for having heard their music. Ubiquity, over time, seems to come more from an artist’s ability to communicate then their genre or style. It is with this in mind that I approach Marmalakes with some confusion; a band that translates themselves into their music this well should really be a better known Austin band.
Marmalakes are actually pretty new; their charming debut and lone release, Wonder Winds, came out last summer. But don’t let their newness fool you; these guys are clearly tight musicians. Their lyrical skill is best demonstrated on their two best songs: “Vittoria” and “(A Scene Through) Cellophane.”Marmalakes - Vittoria
“Vittoria” is a pulsing, five and a half minute ode to the eponymous female. With an effective use of dynamics, and with lyrics like “We were introduced in Riccardo’s apartment / You drew back curtains and framed full ashtrays / And as he pleaded, you only fiddled / Heels on tile, a window reply, the silence of riddles” the song immediately pulls you into its world, only to have it come crashing down with the chorus.Marmalakes - (A Scene Through) Cellophane
“(A Scene Through) Cellophane” is a little more laid back. Built on a breezy guitar line and brush stroked drums, “Cellophane” falls into place like street lights blurring together at 2 a.m. as you walk home, no longer drunk and blissfully sleepy. The lyrics deliver here as well with lines like “The night’s a scene through cellophane / The sockets speak in squinted strain / Creases are increasing, trenches tiny and thin”. Marmalakes write their songs like English majors with lines like this bursting with clever cadences and rolling alliterations.
Personality goes a long way in a band, and Marmalakes definitely takes it there. But once the feeling of intimate sharing wears off we are left with layered lyrics, clever chord structures, and earnest musicianship. You can decide for yourself at approximately 11 pm this Friday. Or just stream their entire catalogue here.