Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Can’t Stop The Aching” by The Mary Onettes from the 2013 album Hit the Waves on Labrador Records.
Perhaps it’s meant to be a bit of a joke, but when discussing their third Labrador Records release, Hit the Waves, The Mary Onettes often cite Greek electronic composer Vangelis (Chariots of Fire) and 80’s pop icon Whitney Houston. Since their formation a dozen years ago, the Swedish group has made no secret of their influence by the sounds of the 80’s, but they’ve always tended to focus on the more romantic sounds of new wave bands like their shared love, The Cure. The new album’s no different in that vein, but you certainly will hear more varied retro pop sounds on this, their most lushly produced work to date. “Don’t Forget (to Forget about Me)”, for example, does have Vangelis-like opening keyboard lines (along with some Peter Gabriel-esque percussion), but throughout, Philip Ekström’s airy vocals are unmistakable and the production is modern enough to please our ears today. Our featured podcast, “Can’t Stop The Aching”, demonstrates how well The Mary Onettes, like the best of their precursors, strike the balance between gorgeous and gloomy. Counter to the song’s lyrics (“you will look away / because your heart’s going black”), the light pop melodies are comparative confection. If you long for The Cure’s sweet melancholy, then you’ll be aching for this song as well.
The Mary Onettes are performing in their native Sweden for the rest of the month, and then they’ll be in Germany in early May. No American dates have been scheduled yet, but hopefully you’ll find them listed soon enough on their website and Facebook page. For now, enjoy this video for the first single from the album, (another pop song of doom) called “Evil Coast”… now which one would that be?