Motopony | Welcome You | Rating: 8.5/11 |
When listening to a record, sometimes it’s not a simple task to grasp the nature of the artist’s musical beast. Such as where the music is coming from let alone where it’s trying to go, message, intent, concept, blah, blah, blah. In truth, it’s not always necessary to “get” any or all of these particulars in order to appreciate the songs: all some folks need is a beat, a hook and they’re in – quality of content be damned.
“We are changing / Oh, can you feel it deep in your bones? / Oh, can’t you hear it in golden tones?”
And then there’s Daniel Blue (vox & guitar), Forrest Mauvais (drums), Mike Notter (guitar & vox), Terry Mattson (bass), Andrew Butler (keys & vox) and Nate Daley (guitar & vox) as Seattle’s Motopony who don’t pose such a challenge even four years removed from their 2011 self-titled debut of charming weirdness with enough touches of throw back and modern day for across the board appeal and barely two years after the beat poetic Idle Beauty EP (see what happens when a fashion designer starts designing music?). But in those four years, Blue and company seem to have found a voice (or another voice) to frame their sophomore release, Welcome You: a voice that marvels at and accepts life’s varied and open road. Our journey begins with a title track that’s a lyrically nimble meditation on mutual inclusion just as hip and hippy as Blue’s spiritually free mind (for a good 30 seconds of the intro it sounds as if there’s a chorus of chanting monks) and it’s nothing if not an initiation into Motopony’s world. Literally and emotionally welcoming listeners into the newfound bliss of these folk-flavored psychedelic, spacey and spacious accounts of transformation (it’s fine if you find yourself stretching your hand out. Really, it’s fine). The funky, hopeful and nocturnal lead single, “Daylight’s Gone,” makes some the best use of the triple guitar-thing that Motopony has going on with its, “Hey, move child / Dance, shine wild” euphoria released and restrained upon command. Some of us just function better when the sun goes down: I am one of those people. Oh yes, there are healthy doses of the funk ala the 70s to be found throughout Welcome You. “Livin’ in the Fire” and Blue’s declaration of, “You can’t tell me who you think I am / ‘cause I went out and was my own damned man” is all sharp defiance with a Hammond organ, swirling synths and echoes to back him up. While Motopony have clearly – according to them – inhaled the “last 80 years of recorded music,” what you’re hearing is a kaleidoscopic yet consistent soundtrack of original and contemporary thought and their artistic deliverance, if you will. Cipher the lyrics of “Molly” if you doubt this.
Some of the stand out tracks are easily the bygone, castle in the air romanticizing of “1971,” the boisterous exultation of “Changing” and the slink and peyote tripping “Gypsy Woman” but the down shift of “Easy Come, Easy Go” is a hypnotic (damned hypnotic) exercise in Blue’s shamanistic tendencies gently packaged in cosmic and vintage tones, as is the whole album thanks to being produced by Mike McCarthy and mostly mixed by Guy Massey. Instrumentally, it shines: the grooves, the layers of sound, the waves of experimentation, even the backing vocals compliment Blue’s comfortably confident and vulnerable voice. Beautifully. So it’s only fitting that Welcome You comes to a close with the sounds of a sitar on “Where It Goes” because – by then – despite and because of the song’s pervasive uncertainty, you’ve pretty much figured out where Motopony is headed because you’re there right along with them.