“Monsieur MXLX, with these releases, you are really spoiling us!”
2015 has been a very good musical year for Matt Loveridge. He’s released possibly the album of the year FUCKUP RUSH under his Fairhorns guise, the Gnar Hest pseudonym returned with Void Rider, the best 1990’s computer game that never existed, then Loveridge released, under the MXLX moniker, three EP’s, two albums and a split tape. Both of the MXLX albums are contrasting. The first being Troubleds, the doom acoustic follow up to 2013’s Go Away and the second being the experimental, and aesthetically pleasing ^___^.
Released by those sonic ne’er do wells FuckPunk, ^___^ is everything we’ve come to expect from them. It packs a massive punch, but everything has been painstakingly thought out and nothing is to chance. When you look at the album, limited to 250 vinyl’s, the record sticks out over the cover. This, like the rest of it, is on purpose. It says “^___^ is so full of ideas and sound it’s busting out of the cover and in it vigour to do so, its ripped off a corner”. The cover itself looks like a mash up of the Gnar Hest album and Pop Will Eat Itself’s debut Box Frenzy. The colours are garish and striking against the black background. There is also a Sci-Fi element at work, of the music being beamed down, or up depending, from some alien craft. Before you’ve even played the album you get the feeling that this won’t sound like anything else you’ve heard this year.
In classic Loveridge style the track names as are gargantuan and unyielding as the music itself, A1) These Are Hammers In Motion What Obliterate Completely The Morose Walls of our Own Failure, The Tumult Of Which More Sonorous Than Any Bastarding Trumpet, A2) To Bollocks With You, Scum-Sodden Malcontent! I Blistered The Path Myself! My House Is Uphill, It’s An Airship And It’s Fucking Wicked M8 and finally B) Magnificent UpFuck For The Most Totally Joyousest Motherfuckinest Sweet Eyes You (hahaha wheee!). So to make it easier I’ll refer to them as A1, A2 and B.
While the album is abrasive and brutal in places, it is also uncharacteristically touching. After the opening barrage of white noise, glitches and feedback, A1 has a very touching and poignant feel to it. This juxtaposition between severe noise and melancholy, makes this stand out from Loveridge’s back catalogue. There is almost the feeling of sympathy to it. Whether he is sympathetic for us and what’s to come or for something in his private life, is never cleared up, but the feeling remains. As A1 progresses Loveridge’s usual elements come to the fore, prophetic gravelly chanty vocals, while what sounds like an organ swells behind.
A2 is the musical equivalent of a prehistoric leviathan or plesiosaur. Opening with a heavy droney doom rhythm, you get the feeling of this creature swimming through murky stormy seas, either looking for shelter or prey. Slightly demonic screeching vocals whip about as the creature emerges from foamy topped waves, finally it spies land/shelter and slowly meanders dragging its hulking weight behind it. Unrelenting noise, guttural vocals grow and growl, pulsate and swell in its wake, until all becomes calmer and tranquil, well as tranquil as Loveridge gets. The outro is built around a delicate hypnotic riff that with each cycle changes and becomes slightly more intricate. It’s incredibly catchy and for a few minutes after A2 finishes you find yourself humming it. Given the wanton noise of A2, it shows that Loveridge is still capable of getting his point across without resulting to a barrage of noise and distortion.
Side B, the longest track on the album, and starts off, after a quite build up, with a salvo fuzz, fizz, glitch, gloops of electronic pops and enough surface noise to make a plane take off sound like sitting in a quiet room being quiet. As B progresses, and your ear becomes in tune with what Loveridge has painfully created, you start to pick out other things. A faint acoustic guitar-esque riff, a subtle melody happily humming along just below the surface and slowly it all starts to come into focus, then about half way through something remarkable happens. All the electronic alchemy that Loveridge has created gets stripped away to reveal a haunting vocal part. Through his deft production the vocals start to seep into the mix slowly and before you know it, they’ve engulfed everything, including your attention. Much like Benjamin Britten before, Loveridge has layered vocals to create something that is on one hand eerily haunting, but on the other hand alluringly enchanting. It’s a captivating way to end a remarkable and beguiling album. As expected ^___^ is like nothing else released this year. While it appears to be a stark reflection of how one man sees the world, it is also inviting and comforting at times.
So what does the rest of 2015 and 2016 hold for Loveridge? Will he be putting his feet up and enjoying a well earned rest? No chance! Under his MXLX guise Loveridge will be playing ATP’s Nightmare Before Christmas weekender taking palce 27th, 28th and 29th November. There is also a rumour of another album coming out this year, but it might be early 2016 now. But whatever happens Loveridge and all his AKA’s will not go silently into the night, he will continue to release the sounds in his head. Personally I take solace in this and you should too!