Before I get into the meat of Mazarin’s new album, We’re Already There, I’d like to preface by saying that, considering two of Treble’s contributors call PA their home, I hope they don’t take offense to a Californian claiming the review of the new Mazarin record for his own. I know territory can sometimes be a sensitive thing, but I promise I deliver this essay with the utmost reverence. I, admittedly, dig Mazarin.
Having heard a handful of Mazarin songs in the past, I’ve always wanted to pick up their records, though had a bitch of a time ever finding them in record stores. I did, however, get to play some songs from 2001’s A Tall-Tale Storyline on my college radio show. But you know, stealing from a radio station is fucked up, and I pretty much never saw that album again after exiting the studio. But a form of redemption has arrived in my mailbox in the form of the band’s latest effort, a fantastic pop album called We’re Already Here.
Very similarly to fellow Philadelphians The Lilys, Mazarin masterfully balances the psychedelic with the lo-fi, the dense with the catchy, the new with the old. Not quite shoegazer, not quite retro-pop and not really anything else that, label-wise, exists, Mazarin are a rare treat in pop music. While finding a convenient label for them would be nice, allowing them to express themselves solely on the strength of their music is even better.
The first of many joyous pop tunes, “The New American Apathy” starts the album off jogging with an echoing drum machine, clanging bells and leader Quentin Stoltzfus’ high, immediately loveable voice. “For Energies Infinite” is somewhat noisier, a repetitive rock tune that comes off like a happier, much cleaner My Bloody Valentine. However, “Another One Goes By,” the third song on the record, is a bittersweet, summer afternoon kind of ballad with reverb-soaked guitars and an aching melody that seems perfectly paired with Stoltsfus’ pained lyrics of “I don’t know what to offer you/I’m broke and lonely.”
“At 12 to 6” enters Brian Jonestown Massacre 12-string psychedelia territory, to quite amazing effect, utilizing just enough reverb and feedback to make the song sound more enormous than it is. “I’m With You and Constellations” is possibly the loudest song on the album, all fuzz bass and squealing tremolo-riding guitars. And yet, it’s still Stoltzfus’ irresistible melodies that hold it together. Not that the rocking isn’t impressive; it most certainly is. It just happens to be a well-written pop song with plenty of external dressing.
The highlights only continue from there, from the sped-up “Fade Into You” strumminess of “Louise” to the effects-laden guitar rock of “NE Weather” to the groovefest that is “Kenyan Heat Wave.” I may not be from Philadelphia, myself, but you don’t need geography on your side to be able to appreciate this record. Mazarin’s third album, We’re Already There, delivers the same promise of infectious pop of the first two in spades. And even though it may sound good the first time around, wait till you go through a few more cycles. It only gets more amazing the more you listen to it.
The Walkmen – Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone
The Lilys – Precollection
Of Montreal – Satanic Panic in the Attic
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.