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My God, it’s Full of Stars
Release Date: December 18, 2015
Typically when reviewing a release by someone who blossomed from a known band, I try to avoid the prior work so as to give the new release its ability to stand on its own. In the case of My God, it’s Full of Stars though, Rob Sweitzer has managed to cover just about every inch of space with “Former Mae keyboardist…”. Accordingly, I’m going to cover this release as if it was the descendent of Mae that it claims to be. As someone who has followed Mae from their before they signed with Tooth & Nail Records (quick point of note, our writer #Kent1340 drummed in a band called Red Admiral that used to open for Mae in their early days) I was highly excited intrigued to hear what would come from this record. Would it achieve the shivers that Mae manages to incite at their greatest moments? Or would it be indulgent and overly electronic (it is by their keyboardist after all)? The answer is, it’s both but not electronic.
The track “Saved” is the perfect example of both the best moments of Mae and a solo artists who could use a little collaboration. There’s moment just before the minute mark where the music drops out and there’s that moment of a perfect hush before the vocals and music come in that sounds a bit like similar moments in “We’re So Far Away”. The track ends though with a jazz-fusion that is a little too much a combination of Phil Collins and “Jazz Odyssey” by Spinal Tap. It’s a track that encompasses everything I love and dislike about M29 in one. Fortunately, for the most part, Sweitzer tends to focus more on keyboard lines that are reminiscent of Mae creating moments of beauty throughout the record. The album’s closing track “Interstellar” is a haunting song that fits the mold of “Goodbye, Goodnight” or “The Sun And the Moon”.
My biggest complaint with this record is that Sweitzer chose to record them with his own voice. He doesn’t have a bad vocal delivery at all, it’s just it’s not Dave Elkins. The songs sound so much like Mae that I would give my left arm to hear them recorded with his voice as they would fit in well with the rest of the Mae discography. Even the rocking first full song “All Is Not Lost” with its heavy distortion just calls for Elkins calming soothing delivery. “Lightness of Being” is the song where Sweitzer sounds the most like Elkins and accordingly it’s the album’s first single. It’s a soaring song that loses a little punch during its bridge but otherwise is perfect. The bridge, though, it makes you wonder what might have happened if there had been other voices involved in the creative process. Might it have gone for the full maximum emotional effect or would it have been left pulled back as it is on the record? One can only wonder.
So in the end, My God, it’s Full of Stars sounds a lot like Mae. If you are not familiar with Mae, then you can expect keyboard driven indie-pop of the finest quality. The recording is great. The vinyl is amazing to look at. This should tide us over until Mae graces us with something new.
Reviewed by Rob 1340