Republic Records · May 11, 2018
Pop duo Marian Hill’s new album Unusual only barely lives up to its name with a sound that becomes stale and repetitive after a few songs.
Starting from the top, ‘Subtle Thing’ is a good intro track that, like the intro paragraph of any good essay, gets the audience’s attention and sets the mood for the rest of the piece. I compare this album to an essay because listening through felt like reading one: it had its good points here and there, but for the most part, it was a little hard to get through and it felt like they were struggling to make the length requirement.
There are a couple of more interesting tracks towards the end of the album; ‘No Hesitation’ amps up the flirting of the album with demanding some romantic action while refusing to initiate anything. The song is catchy, with a hook that sounds like a very direct reference to Hoodie Allens’ ‘No Interruption.’ The next track, ‘Listening’ is all about the reward of listening to your lover, really just some intense musical foreplay. Album closer ‘Go Quietly’ has some interesting musical experimentation, as it doesn’t follow a standard melody with a hook that gets drilled into your head. Instead, it sounds more like relaxed, atmospheric EDM that provides real satisfaction. The vocals are sampled in twisting and turning arpeggiations in between some great sung vocals in the chorus. The sharp staccato samples are contrasted by sweeping synths for a nice warm fuzzy feeling, and in the context of the theme of the album, I guess this would be the cool ‘Down’ song.
Overall, Marian Hill’s Unusual is exactly what is to be expected, no more and no less. They stuck to their idea and ended up sounding a little one note at times, playing it safe. If you liked Marian Hill before, you’ll probably still like this album, but if you’re looking for something new to check out, this might take a little effort to get into. Pass the Aux seemed to sum it up best with their review title, “Marian Hill’s ‘Unusual’ can be your entire bedroom playlist.” So feel free to give that a try and let us here at WRBB know how it worked out.