MYFEVER – Escapism

There’s a certain duality on MYFEVER’s first proper LP. The album title, along with its surreal, dreamlike aesthetic might have you expecting a dreampop or instrumental type release. And indeed, there is something enchanting and beautiful about this band whose origins lie on the sunny gulf coast of Florida. But despite all of this, it’s not an album about hedonistic living, getting drunk on the beach, or cheap romance. The lyrical base for the record is arguably anything but escapist in nature, wrestling with everything from how difficult love is to the loss of identity due to inspiration to just needing a break from life’s weight some days. Idealistic beauty collides with the raw nature of life.

The record spans 11 tracks, but it seems to be segmented into two main sections. The first section, consisting entirely of pre-release singles, serves as a powerful introduction to the relase. “Corona” breaks things up, slowing the pace and pulling back the layers. The rest of the album then completes the story, with “Ten” (coincidentally the tenth track) acting as a short interlude before closer “Matinee”. Even for established fans, the latter sections consists of the most unexplored territory, apart from the final single, “Know.” Lyrically, there’s a lot going on, but much of it can be summarized in regards to how things were, how things are, and how we might wish they could be. Therein lies the escapist element, most clearly seen on tracks like “Runaway.”

Personally, the tracklist is definitely a risk. That’s not to say it’s calculated or that it doesn’t ultimately work, but packing so many singles in a row definitely makes it feel top-heavy. The reality is that these songs feel more familiar; listeners have had more time to listen to them, they’ve had videos, there’s been promotion specifically for them, so on. That’s not to say that they’re strictly better, but they’ve had more psychological impact. Even as a fan of the album format, I still struggle with this. There’s something about seeing almost half an entire album in a row and knowing exactly what to expect and then looking at the bottom half with uncertainty. Again, “Know” does help a little bit, but it’s going to take listeners a few plays to get the full impact of the later tracks.

All that said, the album starts off incredibly strong. The combo of “Heaven” and “Red Sky” might be the best thing on the record, showcasing both the more Fleetwood Mac-ish side of the band and the modern indie-pop side respectively. “Runaway” follows, and it’s yet another favorite, opting for a more subdued and folky flavor.

“Miracle” is admittedly my least favorite track (other than maybe “Ten,” but I don’t know if that counts – more on this later). It’s grown on me a little bit, but it honestly feels a bit out of place. It’s very early 2000s alternative with buzzy guitars and maybe the closest thing the record gets to pure rock. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do a whole lot for me. I guess it leverages a more frenetic approach to pair with the motifs of distress and disillusionment, but there’s something about the vocal processing and guitar effects that feels, for better or worse, anchored to earlier times.

While “Corona” is a full track at over three minutes, its placement on the album and its overall stripped back approach gives it the function of an interlude. There’s little more than guitar, vocals, and some background ambience. Lyrically, there’s imagery of Moses’ encounter with the burning bush and the desire for some sort of revelation. This isn’t the first time biblical imagery shows up on the record, nor is it the last, and while I’m not really sure where any of the band members stand in terms of spirituality, they at the very least see value in these symbols enough to tie them into the large fabric of life.

“Know,” the album’s final single, is a perfect counter to “Miracle” – it opens up the second act with arguably a tasty, moody riff that’s balanced by the more overdriven chords of the chorus. The use of pedalboards and drum programming is a key part of what makes the album as a whole so alluring, and both are present here. There have been a couple breakdowns on getting the specific tone, but some of that is a bit above my education level so I’ll simply say there’s a good balance of reverb, delay, and modulation for the more melodic bits and a healthy bit of gain for the rockier moments.

All these elements make for a particularly nostalgic flavor on “Remember ’88.” Initially, I thought the lyrics were referring to 1988 – but upon repeated listens, I caught the Lewis and Clark reference. I haven’t gone far enough down the Wikipedia rabbit hole to see the exact significance of this. It’s yet another use of poetic imagery and perhaps even a specific knowledge of history that manages to garnish sentiments of nearness and separation with a nice layer of nuance. Musically, it’s a song sprinkled with tape delay and reverses that feels classic and nostalgic. You could probably share it with your dad and he might even like it. That’s probably the most concise way I can describe it. As far as the new songs go, this is definitely one of my favorites.

“On My Knees” and “Spinning” match their first-half compatriots note-for-note. The latter reminds me a lot of Altadore’s “Where You Go” (2012 emo-folkish indie for refence), while the former feels like an indie radio classic. You’ll have to wait a bit for to hear them for yourself, but I’ll confidently say that the latter half does not slow down.

…until it does. I’m honestly not sure what to do with “Ten.” I understand wanting to lead into a song, but upon listening to the album without watching what song I was on, I had to go back to replay it. Other than perhaps literally slamming the breaks on everything or allowing the band to give it a punny title, I don’t think this 30-second abstract instrumental really has any point being its own track. I guess it’s long enough to get streaming credits? I’ve seen bands do some pretty crazy things to blend songs seamlessly, and simply adding an extended intro isn’t a crime, either. It’s somewhat harmless if you’re listening all the way through the album, but no one is going to claim it as their favorite track.

That said, MYFEVER sure know how to close an album. “Matinee” is pretty different than the rest of the album without feeling so different. Piano, synths, and programming serve as the base of the track, but things don’t ever feel too synthetic or overdone. It kind of reminds me of Keane but if the drums were closer to Twenty One Pilots. I don’t even know what that means, so please don’t shoot me. Lyrically, the ending sentiments are reminiscent of Ecclesiastes, where the writer talks about how there’s a season for everything. Admittedly, I can’t quite crack the code on what this has to do with “find[ing] yourself at a matinee,” but as a whole, it triumphantly ties the album together and affirms that good things are often accompanied by work and pain. It’s not stated so overtly, but it cements the themes from throughout the album. On “Red Sky,” it’s a question of if it’s worth making anything when it takes so much energy. On “On My Knees,” it’s a matter of if love is worth keeping if it’s so hard to maintain. “Matinee” doesn’t downplay this; it just acknowledges that we live in the real world, not in a movie, where there is no Hallmark magic.

Escapism was recorded a few years back, and my guess is all of our lives have changed quite a bit during the past election cycle. This isn’t a political comment as much as a lot has happened, and relationships grow and shift. People move. They start school and graduate. The decision to even release something that’s been sitting on the backburner, especially after a sort of hiatus with members living apart, definitely isn’t easy. But this record is more than simply a return to form. It feels like the second half of a story that ended on a cliffhanger, and a majority of the songs throughout the record honestly have potential to work as singles. For the most part, the album balances diverse stylistic influences, with each track having its own character but not feeling too strange compared to the others (exceptions noted previously). Lyrically, the album is definitely in a good spot. I’ve got a pretty high bar when it comes to wordplay, and not every line hits – but there’s a good mix of themes and imagery that are all kind of tied together, and the tracks are very sing-along friendly.

There was a point where it seemed that MYFEVER might have ended for good; somehow, during the year of so much news surrounding cicadas, the trio has returned after toiling underground with just as much power and mystique. Time will tell if there’s more from MYFEVER in the future, but this album leaves plenty to celebrate.

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