Oops, he did it again.
The Misty’s kind of pop gazes blankly through the dirty windows of dark-wave; raven-black and gritty in origin, the music is lost as to its original pop-protected sentimentality. The blackened grime is stained by the smog of distortion, rubbing its pollution against the pane. It’s as if the sweet tooth of the song has dissolved and faded away, surrendering its hope to the brutal noise, which itself is suffering from a notorious type of erosion; the kind that nestles three or four thorny claws deep inside the wounds of life and destroys hope from the inside. Litres of Coca Cola are poured down the throat, turning the classic I-IV-V chord progression into something toxic and highly acidic. You can’t deny that it tastes good, though!
Meet The Mistys, comprised of Andrew Hargreaves (The Boats, Tape Loop Orchestra) and vocalist Beth Roberts. You can compare their sound to Leyland Kirby’s V/Vm project, the noisy, experimental – and just plain disturbing – frequency that took pop songs to the slaughterhouse. It was a cool dimension where the lady in red morphed into the woman in black. The muddy, demonic vocal came from somewhere outside the reaches of sanity and still made pop stars such as Robbie Williams sound a whole lot better than the original – turns out, he was lovin’ demons instead of angels.
Pop-styled music gets a bad rep. There are genuine songwriters out there, along with tasty, fresh chord progressions that don’t feel out of date, despite their popularity. As with everything, you have to look hard; you have to voyage deep beneath the pile of trash, towards the only entrance – the underground.
Shiny beats rebound off the luminescent melodies like halogen lights in a tag-stained tunnel. Through the dull glow, the rhythm pounds without mercy. The sick, high-frequency static could have come from a backwards MTV show, broadcast at three in the morning. The dark punk / kraut-rock / industrial / experimental / mutant electronic pop makes for a beautifully black ride. The concoction is as intoxicating as it is weird; cold rhythmic slabs kiss trippy, synth-deep melodies that squirm over every-day lyrics, something that the musician Dirty Beaches is famed for doing. It’s the innocent vocal candyfloss battling the rush of the midnight beat; Rainbow Dash versus the Death Star.
The vocals are magenta kisses that shoot out of a midnight-black beat; if they are to be believed, they are completely innocent (‘Innocence’ is the first track). Redemption Forest pushes our understanding to the brink, curving our perceptions into new, untested angles that are close to breaking point; what we already know of the electronic spectrum washes away like a can of Coke oozing down the gutter. The cool ‘Moy’ cruises down the neon-washed streets, glinting bright headlights against hooded figures, the radio band stuck in psychedelic war-paint.
‘A Bird’s Name’ leaves strips of dark, beautiful harmony splattered over the concrete. Sewer-born, the crimson synths ooze red rivers of harmony that crawl around the districts and end up downtown. An almost retro-chrome tone permeates the music, perhaps finding a way into the sound via Hargreaves’ love of film noir. The stuttering, heavy beats could’ve been the long-lost descendant of Berlin’s ‘Take My Breath Away’, minus the fighter jets and the cool sunglasses, or Ultravox’s lament on ‘Vienna’ (‘this means nothing to me’).
The red band of light shines in the dark as if it were Raphael’s bandana. It’s definitely a mutant, born out of a chemical spill. And like a teenager, it refuses to do what its pop-parents want; it refuses to conform as it rocks out to its own beat. The coming of the night brings with it a cooler atmosphere. The chill in the air is joined by the late, deep fog of autumn, shrouding the zombie-infested dance-floor. The melodies are purposefully dated in timbre and tonality, but the rhythms spill out omens of the future.
Past the primary chill, you’ll feel the strange warmth that jets out of the synth, coating the music like an outer layer; like an optimistic and open heartbeat that continues to thump, despite being left out in the cold. The open feelings of the heart – both innocent and bitter – are typical in pop, but Beth’s pop-peppered vocals flirt with the subject of passionate love.
This breed of mutant pop twists itself around the vine of the other-worldly; Britney Spears in an alternative dimension, but on a higher plain of sophistication and enlightenment. In this world, loneliness literally does kill. It’s disembodied pop, without a head to call home.
Oh baby, baby.