I was walking down Sunset on my way to Amoeba for Record Store Day on Saturday when a song I’d never heard popped up on a Spotify playlist and stopped me dead in my tracks. The female lead vocalist had a fierce, fiery tone, the chorus had a hell of a hook and there was a horn section. The song was “Machine” by MisterWives, a band whose name I’d seen but work I’d never heard until about 54 hours ago, and now cannot stop listening to.
I love their blend of indie pop and soulful, danceable rock (is a ska reference required?) — and Mandy Lee’s cut-to-the-truth lyrical style. While their last album Our Own House made a bit of a critical splash (and their cover of Chance the Rapper’s “Same Drugs” is more than worth a listen), “Machine” has an extra oomph, a few more layers of sound and an undeniable, resistance-fueled attitude. It’s the kind of song that makes you want to charge to the front lines or throw your fists up in the air, the kind of song that makes you want to start a revolution — or at least pick your head up from the pillow and face the day clear-eyed and ready.
I love the way Mandy Lee can pack a ton of words into a line, or draw out a phrase between bars. She keeps things varied, and upbeat — and “Machine” is an all-out treatise on the way she and her band are not looking to conform to anyone’s notion of what they should but their own. It’s an attitude borne of adolescence that, for better or worse, that gets harder to hold onto as you get older, as the pressures of life and what’s “normal” seep into your daily life. It’s refreshing to hear a rallying cry against that, to be reassured that whoever you want to be want to be is the only opinion that matters.
Adding their forthcoming Connect the Dots to my list of must-heart albums for this spring — and ready to use them to soundtrack any dull mornings that need spicing up, parties that need poppy background with style or any time I need to find that spring my step.
“Pick apart every piece of me
and miss the point entirely.
I only did this to be sane,
not for you to know my name.
Go ‘head and spit the music out
please tell me more about your doubt.
Don’t fear I’ve heard it all before,
each time makes it easier to ignore.
Oh, I am tired of abiding by your rules.
Causing me to second guess my every single move.
You don’t know who I am
or what I have been through, no,
So don’t dare tell me what I
should and shouldn’t do ’cause
Not here, to lose,
Not here for you to choose,
How we should be
Cause we’re not part of your machine.
We’re not, we’re not part,
We’re not part of your machine…”
MisterWives, Connect the Dots