To introduce us to the music of Brooklyn’s The Modern Rivals, their press release helpfully describes their material as “seamlessly integrating the good bits of pop music with exploratory intricacies”. Quite right too. So, basically, it’s experimental but you can still hum along to it. ‘Sea Legs’, their second EP, was mixed by Chris Coady who counts Beach House and TV On The Radio as past clients.
From start to finish it’s easy to see why Coady and the group fit so well together. ‘Defenestrate You’ builds on a maelstrom of swirling keyboards and Beach Boys “ooh ooh” vocals; effortlessly recalling the dreamy Americana of The Flaming Lips in the process but there’s also echoes of Deerhunter in the song’s haunting conclusion. ‘Clocks Vs. Darts’ is no less ambitious and colourful but it’s main calling card is the yearning vocal. The third track, ‘Small Bell’, opts for a winning combination of starry, sparkling atmospherics and a very real sense of melancholia to make it sound like a twisted Disney song. ‘Riku’ only disappoints because it sounds like a slightly inferior and less complex version of the three other songs but it’s actually a good song in its own right.
It’s always hard to judge the true greatness of a group after a mere fifteen minutes but there’s three great songs here and one which is merely good. Based on that ratio, surely their dreampop opus i.e. a full album’s worth of songs, can only be an inevitability.
Modern Rivals Bandcamp
The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Deerhunter