I read a recent interview in which Black Marble were being called out for “ripping people off,” meaning other artists – my first impression as well. When I first heard “Pretender,” it sounded very much like “A Forest” from The Cure. I had friends linking to my facebook page and sending me mp3s and Pitchfork links for it. As is usually the case when I smell a rat, I shrugged and moved along. Snobbery? You know it.
Months later, the same friends tried again, this time with “A Great Design.” I was floored, flattened even. I hadn’t heard a warmth in Synth Pop like it since Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s Architecture and Morality or melodic, early New Order b-sides and non-album tracks. These bands, and more, may have nods from Black Marble on their debut LP, A Different Arrangement (Hardly Art), but ARE NOT ripping anyone off, and for good measure, not sampling them either. Black Marble’s icy, holographic melodies are strewn with saudade, perfect as the soundtrack to a sleepwalk. The muted punctuations on tracks like “A Great Design” and “Limitations” sound more like a Vespa crashing into a wall, or a body being thrown from a van, rather than your usual drum fill or hand claps. Other tracks like “MSQ No Extra” (we don’t know either) and the newly unveiled “Static” (listen below) show promise of great future song writing prowess.
The songs on A Different Arrangement stick to a classic pop song structure with incredibly catchy intros which demand your attention. The album features my favorite pop “trick” on most tracks; a lengthy, heart-tugging outro (sans the lazy, convenient ad lib to fade) and stops on a dime. I’m not comparing them here, but the instrumental outro is a classic and consistent element employed by New Order which most listeners enjoy but don’t really notice, yet arouses repeat listens. Some of my favorite tracks of the year have come from A Different Arrangement. “UK,” “A Great Design” and “Last” are standouts in an already perfect album filled with timely, important pop songs you’ll want to hear regularly.
I loathe the creation and recycled names of music genres. Convenient monikers like Witch House, Goth, or Cold Wave are tired as 4AD’s roster these days, and might be some of the labels thrown at Black Marble’s newest. For us, we’ll laude it as a modern benchmark and a future classic. It’s serious, but not devastating. Sweet, with a side of dour. There are a couple of months left to top it, but A Different Arrangement is looking like my favorite album of 2012, and possibly the last (and hopefully the next) few years.
A Different Arrangement is released digitally and on LP on October 9th, 2012 from Hardly Art. The Weight Against The Door EP is currently available also at Hardly Art, or your favorite digital outlet. Also check out downloads for “A Great Design” and “Static” HERE
A Great Design by BLACK MARBLE
Static by BLACK MARBLE
Pretender by BLACK MARBLE