Sometimes to grow up is good: switching from the kaleidoscope to the telescope, focusing more on what you want to achieve and what you are able to do, defining and improving details. M+A did all of this. After Things.Yes (2011), a debut as rude as twinkling, and after Remix.Yes, remix and tribute EP to artists such as Nedry and Polinski – an occasion to take a picture of their evolution, listen to M.I.A.’s Paper Planes to understand – Michele Ducci and Alessandro Degli Angioli are back with These Days, published, like the previous one, by the London label Monotreme Records.
Here are refined all the eccentric fragments and all the attractive but extemporaneous moments in the songs, and the way seems much more clear in M+A’s music, which became an eclectic pop. For this reason they can now afford much more influences.
The use of vocal in These Days, which was already a strength of the band, demonstrates this: their typical falsetto parts are well mixed with a completely new soul-vibe in the solo parts of Ducci. Things.Yes‘s ‘grammelot’ becomes here more concrete thanks to a more intelligible use of english, where repetitions and phonetic games are complemented with catchy choruses, like in Slow and Midnight Radio.
Moreover, the featuring with canadian rapper Emay, appears essential in the construction of a strong single such as When, released in June.
If the first album was related to Royksopp-Kings of Convenience influences – evocated here in De-Light – now M+A joins Beck’s Mellow Gold, announced inspiration for B Song, half way between scratchy and Beatles chorales. Furthermore, we can find Phoenix influence in Down the West Side, Jamiroquai’s atmospheres and Motel Connection’s delicates moments in Game and Midnight Radio, also because of the similarity between Ducci’s and Samuel’s voice.
Funky guitars, 70s sounding strings and clapping (Practical Friday, Freetown Solo) reveal also a vintage taste, similar to Daft Punk’s RAM.
All these inputs are always well controlled by M+A. L.E.M.O.N., the peak of the entire album, demonstrates this: here we have gospel vocalisations, soft rhythms – here played by jazz drummer Marco Frattini, the only guest musician in the album -, and electric piano that joins the solo vocals.
Another great piece is New York There, which is an interesting mixture between hip-hop and french disco and seems an ideal answer to Alicia Keys/Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind.
These Days’s only deficiency, though, seems to be the repetition in arrangements, where solution are often similar between each other, one example for all the piano parts in When and Down the West Side.
Mixed and mastered – it is worth mention when sound makes so much difference – by Andrea Suriani at Alpha Dept. Studios in Bologna, These Days is a thick album, despite of its genesis in-motion (the album has been composed and recorded in one year between London, Bologna and Bergen).
In the end, this album is the confirmation of M+A’s talent and makes them one of the most interesting italian projects in recent days, even if their music doesn’t seem italian at all!
1 – When
2 – B Song
3 – Down the West Side
4 – Freetown solo
5 – Game
6 – New York There
7 – L.E.M.O.N.
8 – Practical Friday
9 – De-light
10 – Slow
11 – Midnight Radio