An hour of high school petting and then going home. Such is the music of Madder Rose. With incredible self-restraint, this New York quartet creates richly textured songs with a controlled aggression lying just below the surface. The tension this creates is both tremendous and unnerving. As Mary Lorson's honey dulcet voice floats dreamily over Billy Cote's atmospheric melodies backed by a fuzzed-out yet controlled guitar, you expect that at any minute the cage door will open and the pent-up guitar will break into a ravenous frenzy... but it never does. The gentle, relaxed melodies are original and inviting while the music is a mixture of playful psychedelia and ethereal simplicity with Cote's distorted guitar pacing around the edges like a hungry animal.
With the exception of one song written exclusively by Lorson (with an annoyingly repetitive chorus), the songwriting on their latest release, Hello June Fool, is strong throughout. "Feels Like Summer" certainly does, transporting the listener to a lazy summer afternoon, laying in the sun-speckled shade of a tree, the temperature just right. "Overflow" has a subdued funk feel and tastefully placed wah-wah guitar that tugs at you, seductively promising release that never comes. "Hotel" is an ironic story of longing ("he took his life when he wanted to take yours") and "Train" has an incredible, and incredibly complicated, drum part that indeed sounds like a train. In "Goodbye June Fool", Lorson's rich voice contains just the right mixture of playfulness and sorrow to capture the feeling of paradise lost present in this song. The near-pop melodies and rich, textured feel of this music should appeal instantly to fans of The Breeders, The Choir, or Psychedelic Furs. However, anyone wanting to hear well-crafted music that appeals to both the heart and mind would do well to check out this latest release by Madder Rose, a band that knows who it is and where it is going.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, August 1999.