Mary Dear’s Absentee is 10 tracks packed with diaphanous harmonies floating over mellow and severely locked in grooves. The band delivers complex lyrics that seem to touch on themes of being fed the fuck up, dreamy narratives and (sometimes painful) realizations.
Recorded in St. John’s in January 2017 with Jake Nicoll, keyboardist and vocalist Esmée Gilbert and guitarist and vocalist Leslie Amminson had collected most of the 10 tracks for Absentee over a few years from demos and RPM Challenge projects. Throughout their 6+ year career, the band grew from a two-piece to a five-piece band (Sarah Harris on bass, Peter Lannon on guitar and Jack Etch on drums), Gilbert says that many of the tracks hadn’t been backed by a full band before. You’d be hard pressed to guess that if you weren’t familiar with the band’s history as the album sounds very cohesive and very clean.
Spare instrumentalism (I say spare but it leads up to a really bomb guitar solo that really rips the hell out of er so don’t like crank it first thing) on “Nothing” showcases almost Baroque-ish harmonies. “Please Don’t Lie To Me” absolutely crushes some poor dork with a “simple mind” (ow) but like in the sweetest sounding way possible? Like you’d obviously perish if this song was about you but you’d also have to hand it to them because it also owns. “Strange Sort of Joy” has some real strong Plumtree vibes, noted and appreciated. And what a goddamned BOP is “Backbiting”—the bass bumps all to hell and back, just try and stop it. You can’t, so don’t try.
Photo by: Heather Nolan
Amminson and Gilbert’s vocal skills alone could carry Absentee, but thoughtful lyrics and dynamic musicianship make the album super lovely.
Contribution by: Stephanie Johns (she/her) plays guitar in Not You and bass in Moon and has been writing about music for 20 years. She made two cute people that she spends a lot of time with these days.