Friday, 13 April 2012

REVIEW: Mesita - The Coyote

*Originally published for The 405 (13/4/12)

You know that tip-of-the-tongue familiarity that you get when listening to music? That teeth-grinding frustration that eats into your daily routine? This is what happens when you delve into Mesita's latest release, save for the unclenched teeth. The Coyote constantly jumps between syncopated Radiohead rhythms, darting Efterklang melodies, bluesy Black Keys riffs and airy Bon Iver falsettos, to name but a few comparisons. It seems as if all of these artists, and more, have been soaked up by James Cooley (under his moniker, Mesita) – a bedroom producer and multi-instrumentalist from Colorado, USA. Not only is Cooley a bit of a musical mastermind, but a sponge who effortlessly squeezes out perfect pop song-shaped suds.

The first few tracks are driven by infectious guitars that lock you into listening. ‘William Cannon‘ and ‘The Coyotes‘ seem to be in a race with Tunng and Hockey; with off-beat strums, glittering harmonies, puckered acoustics and Indonesian gamelan sounds that radiate a balmy joy. ‘Onward Upward‘ is bossed about by a heavy beat that stomps on Spanish guitars and Broken Bells-esque stereo vocals.

‘The Front Range‘ and ‘Out For Blood‘ introduce a more sinister sound at the album‘s core. The ringing root notes and hurtling drums in the latter thump as loudly Arcade Fire‘s ‘Ready To Start‘ and Cooley‘s sexy, unshaven vocal glides over gorgeous desert rock riffs. ‘The Front Range‘ is the sunny lovechild of Radiohead‘s ‘Weird Fishes/Arpeggi‘ and ‘Bloom‘, with unpredictable, swelling snare rolls and dissonant bass notes.

What is so engaging about The Coyote, apart from pin-pointing all its influences like an excited child, is its meticulous structure. Where ‘Out For Blood‘ and ‘The Front Range‘ build on the glossy sounds of the opening tracks, ‘Into The Wind‘ marks the beginning of the record‘s dark final stages. The track embodies a startlingly different sound, with muted distortion, snake-rattle drums, spliced samples, ebow bends and fuzzy electronics. Just as you are starting to adjust your ears, Cooley suddenly brings in bouncy lounge music and your eyes pop with disbelief. Does he manage to pull this dramatic song change off? Absolutely.

Cooley even makes room for some hardcore music, albeit in a skewed sense. ‘You Or The City‘ has all the ingredients for neck-thrashing and pig-snorted screams, but the pitchy guitars are too compressed and, quite disappointingly, the song doesn‘t reach the climatic point that you want it to.
It is ‘Endless Build Into Nothing‘, with its ironic title, that achieves everything that ‘You Are The City‘ fails to. Starting with a soothing guitar and hushed vocals, a colourful guitar gradually lifts Cooley‘s hook, "future distant, endless build into nothing," before gospel organs, bleating guitars, monstrous drums and ghostly vocals bellow at the peak of the crescendo.

Mesita‘s latest LP is an entrancing medley of genres from all parts of the globe, and James Cooley manages to stitch everything together with his relentless nack for melody. The Coyote is a bustling pop record that gets right to the point and doesn‘t care what influences it drags along with it, because without them it wouldn‘t be half the informed and astonishing record that it is.


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