Move aside, typical intro. In a tidy break from the normal band bio hullabaloo, Märvel have brought a genuinely intriguing story detailing the release of their latest. As they tell it: back in the primordial aughts, three Swedish exchange students in Denver found themselves in an exciting situation--after being picked up by a US indie label, the original vers kion of this EP was recorded. And then...it didn't see the light of day. This was due, firstly, to the label not releasing it as planned, and, secondly, the untimely demise of the master tapes in 2008's Universal Studios fire. Thankfully for us slumbering Villagers (and you as well,) the four tracks that constitute Märvellous have been reborn anew.
This current iteration of those lost songs is not, however, an exact replica. In the band's words, "we wanted to play, produce and record the songs as well as we possibly could." And so here we are, listening to the pseudo-original tunes from a band who have since gone on to prove themselves worthy to shoulder the burden of rock 'n' roll revitalization.
As paragons of glam rock, early KISS and/or Ace Frehley's solo work is the obvious point of comparison, but the bubblegum bounce of Sweet and (debut-era) Cars seems to be a touchstone as well. For good measure, Märvel also seems to imbue their work with the general excitability of Foghat, or perhaps the gumption of Grand Funk Railroad's more straightforward numbers. This EP's most recognizable characteristic, however, is the odd-yet-comforting feeling that these are songs we've heard a thousand times before. Not, I hasten to add, in a negative or played-out manner--indeed, the aura of nostalgic familiarity is relentlessly appealing. These Swedes know how to tap into a very specific feeling exuded by a very specific moment in the musical zeitgeist.
For Märvel, catchiness through blatant repetition is the name of the game. Take first track "Amaze-O" as a prime example. This bad boy seems to built on a Cat-In-The-Hat-esque basis that less equals more when it comes to vocabulary: "Oooooh, yeah, Amaze-O," repeated ad infinitum. When the following tracks do introduce a little lyrical variety, your favorite standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure remains firmly rooted. As you can imagine, the four tracks contained herein aren't exactly gonna blow your socks off from a songwriting and/or compositional standpoint. Understandable, given their origin in feel-good fare. And frankly, who cares? We're not here for the Next Best Thing; we're here for melodically inclined foot tappin' rock 'n' roll, dammit. And, in pursuit of this objective, Märvel perform most admirably. You should most definitely check out the title track if you're looking to sample, but the whole shebang is fantastic. I, for one, will most certainly be diving face-first into their back catalog. Post-haste.
In short? Märvellous feels...dated, albeit in the absolute best sense of the word. Whereas many entries in the retro-rock pool feel sluggish and stuck in the past, these guys really do know how to apply the established formula in a genuinely impressive and infectiously energetic manner. It's fun, it's nostalgic, and it wears the mantle of glam rock extravagace with an air of casual simplicity. A knockout combo, if e'er there was. I highly recommend you give Märvellous a well-deserved moment of your time.
Märvel - Märvellous was released Jan. 24th from
The Sign Records
Providing thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy, and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a groggy-eyed, highfalutin peasantry.