Although Marah originates from Philadelphia, many mistake their Springsteen-influenced rock as a product of our nation’s South. At times, Marah even mixes in some gospel rock. They have that happy, upbeat, stand-up, hand-clapping, sing-a-long style, though the Lord is given nary a whisper. Marah’s last album, Fly Away With the Friday Night Gods, released two years ago, moved away from their rootsy sound in favor of a more prevalent Britpop influence. But on their fourth album, 20,000 Streets Under the Sky, the kids from Philly have mellowed a bit, even to the point of going a little twangy.
A lot of this album is great, if you can listen to in small chunks. If you allow yourself a two-song time frame to digest the music on Streets, you will most likely enjoy the whole thing much much more. Otherwise, your listening attention will drift and wander away. Then I realized as I was trying to listen to this album as a whole, that the music just faded into the background.
The beginning track is called “East,” and it sounds great — a mellower Marah then what I’m used to hearing. No hand clapping or gospel stand-up, just a great rock song with a hint of alt-country to it. This theme seems to resonate much into the rest of the album — upbeat and catchy, but not as jolly as other Marah albums or songs for that matter. Songs like “Feather Boa,” “Freedom Park,” “Sure Thing,” “Soda” and “Body” favor a mellower style, a sound that makes up half of the album.
The last track of the album, “20,000 Streets” is an instrumental guitar-plucked song. It almost sounds like a Shakespearean minstrel’s “Hey Nonny Nonny” kind of thing. It’s mellow and boring, and it put me in no mood, except, perhaps, utter annoyance — annoyance which carries over to the whole album, should you attempt to listen to in its entirety.
There are some great sounding songs on 20,000 Streets Under The Sky, but again, the songs work better on their own than they do in the context of a whole album. Perhaps I was expecting an album’s worth of summer anthems, and I wanted Marah to deliver it. But instead, what I got was bored.
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