|||

Review: Desire by Mope Grooves

2019, See My Friends Records SMF-023


Listen + Purchase on Bandcamp

Of all the post-punk releases of the last 5 years, I return to this one the most. With Desire, Portland’s Mope Grooves funnel a bunch of diverse sounds into a well-set, trembling jello. A typewriter! Clappy sticks! Dinner bells! Also, Electric pianos, dictaphone recordings, drum machines, string sections and Casios! The songwriting is focused and super hooky, yet every song also feels like a contained self-discovery. There is no set approach or formula here—one song seems to be built around a set of samples, one a guitar part, another a drum machine cycle, or a electric piano phrase. Moods range from romantic dance to wistful introspection.

Conventional post-punk critical wisdom tends to celebrate the known templates (Joy Division again!), but Desire refreshingly invokes its predecessors while also feeling completely unique. It spiritually inhabits a similar space to The Fall’s masterpiece Grotesque, in that they both feel like an artist’s journal or diary—like 4-track bedroom recordings filtered through a band. However, while Grotesque may feel like an arrogant bloke’s manifesto (let’s be honest), Desire feels non-judgmental, open and inviting. All are welcome here.

The bass lines deserve their own paragraph. A real inspiration! They leave space but serve as anchor and glue. They are the door into this record—playful but always on-task, interpreting the melody in shorthand. Take opener Turn to Glass” for a great example—it’s all about the space between the notes.

The production also deserves a special mention: balanced but gritty and unmistakably DIY, it colors the sounds and stitches them together—a fingerprint-covered lens to look through and contextualize.

Album closer Many Variations” is the most beautiful lullaby. Romantic and warm like a flickering light.

Like all great records, Desire takes you to a place. It’s someone’s curated space, laid out exactly how they’d like it—private, but always welcoming.

Christian Best

IG: @smokebellow

Up next Collage: "We're a Puzzle" by David Van Fiction: "The Pit" by Elyn Turne There’s no spiral and no staircase, and for those who are sentenced to work on this project there’s no way out. Such as myself. I’ve grown nostalgic
Latest posts Three poems by Ian Stratton Attic Room by Small Sur [Baltimore Sound Document] Fiction: "Dots" by Alex Antiuk Two poems by Italo Ferrante Thrift Store Record Reviews [Anything for a Weird Life] Three poems by Lindsay Raspi Poem: "Arcadia" by J.R. Barner The Nowhere Feeling of Holidays [Anything for a Weird Life] "The BRUISER Staff and All Their Special Sticks" by Z.H. Gill (LA Loser) Three poems by Arumandhira Howard Fiction: "Uncle Simms" by Sy Holmes Letter of Recommendation: Suzanne Doogan [Anything for a Weird Life] "What Godot Forgot" by Erwin Dink Fiction: "St. Thomas Memory Care Facility" by Sean Ogilvy Poem: "Celebrate Your Transition Into A Lot" by Suzanne Doogan Essay: "The International Sad Players Anthem" by Kelly Xio Anything for a Weird Life: "Why I Go to Shows" by Tim Kabara Three poems by Hayden Church Three prose poems by William Doreski Poem: "I CAN CONTROL THE WEATHER" by Kate Zeyger Fiction: "Nomadic" by George Oliver Two Poems by Stephen Mead Fiction: "I became a different person" by Tony Rauch Submit.6 Poem: "Hanyatlásvég (The End of Decay)" by László Aranyi Fiction: "some more reasons why denby trashed your place" by Tony Rauch Triptych: "Omnipotence" by Jeshua Schuster Interview: Matthew Byars of Attorneys General and Essential Tremors Two Poems by Nicholas Barnes Fiction: "Sprinkles" by Alex Antiuk Image: "I fell down and hurt my head again, now I don't believe in words" by Jeshua Schuster