The follow up to 2013’s Go Away is a haunting and alluring beast
Matt Loveridge must be the hardest working man in music. Not even hummingbirds can catch him at work. When he’s not performing skull shattering gigs, he’s recording under a number of nom de plumes MXLX, Fairhorns, Gnar Hest and Speed the Plough to name but four, all keeping with the never ending story arc of mysterious The Croatoa Institute.
This week sees the release of his forth MXLX release of the year Troubleds, and there is another EP out at the end of the month too. Troubleds is an (un)official sequel to 2013’s Go Away. Instead of usual auditory abuse, we were given thirty six minutes of lo-fi doom acoustic workouts while tongue in cheek lyrics and song titles “I Am Not a Functional Human Being”, “The Hate (Continues)” and “Why Are You Still Alive?”. This time it’s more of the same, but the doom has been turned down a bit and it’s slightly cheerier.
Fuck off and EXPLODE gets Troubleds going in fine form. A stuttering guitar kicks things off until a dexterously jaunty finger picking phrase washes over us. The level of tenderness of the playing coupled with Loveridge’s dead pan delivery make us feel that things have improved since the gloomfest of Go Away. In all honesty this is as close to a pop song as anything MXLX has ever made. And what’s scary is how easy he makes it look. Since My Mind Caved In… sees Loveridge questioning life, the universe and everything, part extenstential part tongue in cheek, while he strums an intricate rhythms.
O Faithful Erection has a classic British folk feel to it, but you know, after a heavy night out. Delicate picking and deep vocals showcase Loveridge’s dexterity at not just making skin liquefying bangers but songs that sting of angst and blatant honesty. All Flailing Limbs and Wanker sees Loveridge let rip and unleash something that slightly resembles his previous work. Distorted guitars overload a compassionate vocal. It’s like eating a takeaway the next morning. You know there will be parts that won’t be pleasant, but you do it anyway as you enjoy the discomfort. Hammers into the Unknown is one of the standout tracks as it mixes Loveridge’s newly embraced song writing, and mixes it with his usual fare. Cacophonous maelstroms are rooted by delicate guitar work. This juxtaposition is a highlights not just on the album, but in his already outstanding back catalogue.
Troubleds showcases not just Loveridge’s skill are composition, but at his ability to morph is music as his vision sees fit. Textually the combination of his guitars techniques and picking style and his deadpan vocals make for a chilling yet uplifting listen. While Troubleds might have a downer feel, that isn’t its overall point. Loveridge doesn’t was us to extort sympathy on him, far from it, in fact he’d probably be offended if we did, but his aim is to show us society as he sees it. With all it’s get rich schemes and vapid ‘celebrities’ compared to ‘real’ people who suffer and have problems dealing with how their lives aren’t what they were promised when they were young. But in a way, as we all are, he’s cool with. He’s troubleds are our troubleds.