Electropop’s tent revival may have moved on to other mutated microgenres, but MNYNMS (pronounced Many Names) have not lost their faith. Their new EP, Rite of Passage, reaches deep into the core of personal experiences to create a poignant and atmospheric homage to electropop’s sweetness and light in four deceptively simple songs.
Rite of Passage builds using the vintage tools found in Krautrock, relying on synth-heavy melodies that swell, swirl and shadow trap rhythms at trip-hop tempos. Jacob Childs builds plodding beats in a weightless world on Rite's opener, “You.” Rising above the ethereal firmament are Jessica Wahlquist’s airy vocals, which, through flawless production, cast a spell in an otherwise automated world. With self-professed depth and expression, Lacey Youngblood’s use of synths provides color in an otherwise achromatic world.
Sweeping away like an undertow, “You” drags casual listeners under, setting the tone for the remainder of the EP. “Beset” shows flashes of a group that could focus solely on instrumental dance tracks; however, the song's headstrong rhythms combine with Wahlquist’s airy vocal treatments to turn an otherwise straightforward track into the EP’s most obvious single. A certain coherency is established. MNYNMS knows how to form a clear narrative to keep a captive audience.
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In 2015, MNYNMS, a relatively unknown local act who performed at last year’s Houston Whatever Fest, introduced themselves as a band capable of reaching into avant-garde realms without the smug pretentiousness associated with outsider artists. On their fascinating Projection Series, each track is a prayer rooted in relativistic spirituality. Embedded within them, the idea of certainty is a myth, and the songs forge into spaceless realms and play like soundtracks to dreams, which secured MNYNMS as a group willing to traverse into uncharted realms.
Rite of Passage needs the risks MNYNMS took on Projection Series. “Mirrors,” an elegant song dressed in sublime features and the standard fare found in the finest Ladytron and Goldfrapp tracks, returns to the sweeping currents of “You." Thickness fills cracks. It suffocates, drowns and mercifully lets go. Again, the problem is that groups like The Knife and Crystal Castles have suffocated, drowned and let go of those who committed time and attention to their art. They have planted their respective flags in the same ground that MNYNMS claim.
Best beats first. OMD, Depeche Mode, New Order and many others owe a huge debt to Kraftwerk, yet these groups improved on an idea the German duo established. How Rite of Passage finishes, however, does not place MNYNMS in the same circle of excellent electropop pioneers who first settled its realm. It allows them to learn from the past masters in order to figure out what makes them stand out from the brood of bands in an oversaturated genre.
Listen to Rite of Passage here.