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Mope Grooves - "Desire" | Album Review


by Andy Andrade (@luckybagelboy)

99¢ dreams cost a fortune without an employee discount. Aisle by aisle, Mope Grooves search through emotional visions, persistent pop patterns and selective product placements of comfort. Their latest EP Desire on See My Friends Records continues a tradition of eclectic thrift twee and lo-fi experiments. Aided by an authentic longing to express serious work within limited means, Desire’s sonic session splits listeners away from their consumerist lifestyle while advocating well-being through reflection.  

Perhaps a warped tape of Beat Happening’s Dreamy or a 4th generation copy of The Raincoats purchased from a sidewalk flee market inspired Desire. Home recorded and nostalgic for 20th century imperfection, the opening track “Turn to Glass” give the impression of a sleep-walker who’s suddenly awoken into a strange place between their nervous life and stable dreams. Vibrato keys echo as a chime against reality. Stevie Pohlman’s ghostly warning shivers a distant melody, “I know nothings is true so how can you lie the way that you do?” A phantom bass line accompanies shuffled drums, turning sedentary into speed. You can’t keep waiting for something to change without moving.

“Smashed Landscapes/Swimmer/Pictures of The Moon” are a carousel of altered consciousness. A therapeutic movement, these tracks confront regret and fear while celebrating their existence. If you can feel negative emotion, you’re still awake. A new state of mind will take over by nightfall. It can’t be avoided, no matter how bad you’re feeling. In his lyrics, Stevie desires that moment of reflection, “Sing the song, I long to hear your voice. Wheels of fire, here comes the night. Dreaming. Dreaming.”

Once you’re there, you’re back where you left off. Various instruments loop into a carnival show in “Bicycle Dancers”. The idiosyncratic layering of bass and monophonic guitar form a dream that is quickly forgotten. The listener is brought back and forth between their own imagination, and the space created by Stevie. Enjoy your stay. Any ride is free as long as you exit from the entrance. The lights from the carnival dim, “If you wake up and want something you never wanted before, then that desire might has well have existed forever.” All festivals end but come again.

How long have you been sleeping? The closing track “Mary Variation” brings the dawn. There are no vocals, no guitar, no bass or drum. Only childlike innocence reverberates between a xylophone and synth. Mope Grooves exit without judgement, without conjecture. A reminder to pay attention to present-moment experiences, Desire stands for the importance of emotional acceptance. A cathartic release; you’re back in the working world, your dreams will see you after.