Marnie Stern
Marnie Stern


4.0
excellent

Review

by Conrad Tao EMERITUS
October 3rd, 2010 | 30 replies | 7,751 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "In order to see it, you've got to believe it. I do."

Marnie Stern is sick of your shit.

Marnie Stern is going to go out and have a great time shredding with her buddies while you’re stuck at home listening to records in that old Metallica t-shirt you bought at the thrift store and are now wearing ironically (‘cause, you know, Metallica suck). “Hopefully this record reaches more people than the avant circles the last one seemed to reach,” says Marnie about the follow-up to 2008’s excellent (only typing this once) This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That, the (thankfully) eponymous Marnie Stern. In other words, a barely concealed “fuck you” to the hipsters. And as a KO bonus, she hates Best Coast! (Damn, Marnie, way to kick’em while they’re already down.) At least she had the good sense to acknowledge the Pitchfork effect and how it has benefited her career. Or did she? Maybe them P4K goons banished her to the artsy corner of the classroom, leaving her to toil in relative obscurity. But honestly? None of this really matters. No matter how many people end up hearing Marnie Stern, ten or ten thousand, it’s a terrific record, filled with some of Stern’s best work.

What has always set Stern apart from her math-rock colleagues is her reluctance to allow virtuosity to overwhelm her songs. So while opener “For Ash” is sufficiently complex, what with its rapidly changing time signatures and elaborate guitar figures, it’s also decidedly fun. When the drums take a breather and a chorus erupts in an irresistible chant, it’s impossible to not break into a huge shit-eating grin. Stern’s chirpy voice may have grated on previous albums, where it often functioned as yet another instrument in the mix, but here it is a key element in keeping the more cerebral tracks like “Female Guitar Players Are The New Black” (oh, Marnie, you so subtle) and “Her Confidence” deliriously enjoyable. Of course, the superb drumming and characteristically mind-boggling guitar work don’t hurt, nor does the solid production. With this album, Stern has left behind the sparse textures of This Is It, opting for an appealingly full-bodied sound. The results are galvanizing; closer “The Things You Notice” is positively gorgeous, benefiting from a warm coat of reverb. It’s the gentlest track on the album, yet it makes perhaps the strongest impact. Stern is utterly naked here, stripped of the abrasiveness that has characterized so much of her work; she seems to be singing half to herself, repeating phrases over and over again with quiet urgency. It’s a poignant denouement, a rare glimpse of vulnerability.

So go ahead, Marnie, try to break free from the indie shackles that you’ve been bound in. I’ll be here, listening to this album over and over, wondering what exactly makes it so special. But maybe trying to pinpoint exactly why Marnie Stern is such a success is grabbing at straws. As Stern says herself: “In order to see it/you’ve got to believe it.”

All together now: “I do.”



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user ratings (39)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
conradtao
Emeritus
October 4th 2010


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wow, reading this over, I realize that I barely talk about the album itself. But whatever, that introduction was super fun to write.

emmy
October 4th 2010


205 Comments


shredding with her buddies = playing along with her ipod in front of 20 people in a basement

Kiran
Emeritus
October 4th 2010


6001 Comments


i just got 'this is it and i am it..' and after reading this, i'm really looking forward to hearing that. maybe i'll get to this afterwards if i enjoy it. another excellent review conrad.

thebhoy
Emeritus
October 4th 2010


4459 Comments


I can't stand her

XulOnerom
October 4th 2010


1818 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Review was a little weird but fuck it, I'll pos just because is Marnie fucking stern

Will be checking this out soon. I loved her last album

conradtao
Emeritus
October 4th 2010


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fank you, Kiran. it was fun to write.

jeremologyy
October 4th 2010


269 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is one of the best reviews ive read on here ever. so good. so funny and personable. and i agree with everything you said about the album. it's incredible how she manages to make an attempt at simplifying things and still makes a record that is technically better than most people on the scene today. she is so talented, and i can't wait for her to keep making stuff.

conradtao
Emeritus
October 4th 2010


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thank you, good sir, for the pos. : )

The album isn't quite as amazing as I found it upon first listen, but its held repeat spins pretty well. Some of the songs that I found irritating at first ("Risky Biz") are now my favorites.

Taxt
October 4th 2010


638 Comments


Didn't know this was out
Good review!

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
October 10th 2010


7026 Comments


i didn't like the last album. might check this out.

Digging: Perfume Genius - Too Bright

tombits
October 10th 2010


3470 Comments


Tera Melos' old drummer, Vince, plays in this band now. Might have to check it out.

plane
Staff Reviewer
October 24th 2010


6094 Comments


Fun stuff

merriweather
October 24th 2010


619 Comments


Waittt, lol so Lewis didn't leave Sputnik? I'm confused.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
October 24th 2010


15035 Comments


nobody leaves sputnik

plane
Staff Reviewer
October 24th 2010


6094 Comments


I am merely keeping up with what I like, I shall get bored soon enough

conradtao
Emeritus
October 24th 2010


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wait what did i miss

MaskAtTheMasquerade
November 18th 2010


2887 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Tera Melos' old drummer, Vince, plays in this band now. Might have to check it out.

he does?
also, so far im liking this even more than This Is it. She's awesome

Ire
June 21st 2011


41763 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

saw them open for the flaming lips


it was shredtastic

psykonaut
June 21st 2011


3913 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ugh now i'm even more jealous

Taxt
June 21st 2011


638 Comments


I saw Marnie & Tera Melos a few months ago.
She stood right next to me for most of Tera Melos' set, we're pretty much BFF's now.



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