Review Summary: The Bland and Forgettable Marmozets
In 2014, The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets
showcased a promising band still trying to get a grasp on their identity, and as a result, it played out like two different bands warring with each other. The first Marmozets were a fierce, inventive post-hardcore band that featured idiosyncratic rhythmic shifts and the captivating vocals of Becca Macintyre, whose dynamic wails and ferocious screams could give Julie Christmas a run for her money. The second Marmozets were a by-the-numbers pop rock band that wrote standard verse-chorus-verse anthems with amateurish lyrics like, “We can do whatever we want/‘Cause we’re born young and free.” Throughout the course of the album, the two styles would clash, one or the other version would gain an upper hand, but Marmozets never settled on who they were. So while Weird and Wonderful
demonstrated potential, it remained thoroughly in limbo. Four years later, one of those versions of Marmozets has ultimately emerged victorious, and it’s not the version anyone was rooting for.
Knowing What You Know Now
discards nearly every bit of the post-hardcore spirit that made Weird and Wonderful
compelling and unique, and doubles down on the pedestrian elements that held it back. The band’s ferocity, including Macintyre’s screaming, is gone. Every song is in a single, standard meter. There are occasional, tiny remnants of the band’s original spark in the guitar work and vocal performance on “Habits” and “Meant to Be,” but they’re still miles away from the arresting heights of “Particle” and “Vibetech.”
Instead, Knowing What You Know Now
is firmly the domain of that second version of Marmozets that played simple, unremarkable rock anthems, and without the mathy hardcore to break up the monotony, the flaws of that style become all too apparent. Becca Macintyre’s lyrics have somehow worsened; when they’re not overflowing with trite platitudes like “grass is greener” and “us against the world,” they’re clumsy and incoherent, as the chorus for “Major System Error” neatly demonstrates.
I can see a major system error in you
You think one plus seven-seven-seven makes two
If your story ever, ever, ever, came true
Can you keep it together?
Why is the addressee adding those numbers together, aside from the fact that they fit the measure? What’s going on with the verb tense? What story? These are the kinds of questions that arise when Macintyre strays from the comfort of the banal.
The music feels just as insipidly confused. The arena rock rhythms that drummer Josh Macintyre pounds out might rile up a crowd with low standards and a few beers in their systems, but on record, they feel hollow and lifeless. The guitar lines and vocal melodies are predictable, sloppily constructed, and stiffly performed. And by the time “Run With the Rhythm” comes to a close, the listener is left with the overwhelming sense that damn near every idea that Marmozets brought to Knowing What You Know Now
has already been done to death, and that not a single one manages to say anything of value. Knowing What You Know Now
is a dull, passionless slog of a listening experience, and a massive disappointment coming from a band that once inspired intrigue and excitement. In 2014, Marmozets were still figuring out their identity. Since then, they've apparently decided they didn't want one.