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Earlier this year, Savages shared their brilliant sophomore album, Adore Life, a dark yet immensely introspective album whose soul was primal and cathartic. If there was a companion album to Adore Life, it could very well be Mayflower Madame‘s debut LP, Observed in a Dream.
Observed in a Dream has the wintry feeling of Mayflower Madame’s home country – icy and dark, haunting and majestic. Throughout its eight songs and over thirty minutes in duration, we are sent on a mesmerizing journey across the tundra in Norway’s more remote areas, beginning at “Confusion Hill”, which welcomes us with a wave of reverb before settling into a methodical, eerie rhythm. Frontman Trond Fegernes’ hallow vocals add to the suspense.
“Lovesick” changes the pace, moving towards a more upbeat, neo-psychedelic sound that crosses between Wooden Shjips and Brian Jonestown Massacre. The whirling guitars and dense bass lines created a hallucinating effect, which is only added by Fergernes speaking about a levitating, out-of-body experience. “Self-Seer” and “Upside-Down (the death loop)” follow and must be heard simultaneous. Together, they form the album’s heart and soul with their hypnotic and dazzling tempo. Like being lost in the wilderness, it is at this point where you begin to succumb to one’s surroundings, or in this case the soul-crushing psychedelia of Mayflower Madame.
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We are brought back from the brink with “Weightless”, a spiraling tune that echoes “Lovesick” in its approach, but within Observed in a Dream the song is like a ray of sunshine. The fog, though, returns on “Into the Haze (redux)”, a song that has a trance-like effect to match the song’s lyrics of being intoxicated by one’s love for another. We’re left in this same state on the delirious “Observed in a Dream”, but instead of living the dream we are left feeling we’re trapped inside it. That there isn’t an opportunity to escape and the journey will never end.
The closer, “Forever // The End of Everything”, though, offers a reprieve. The crystalline guitars in the middle part of the track are a breath of fresh air, helping us to awaken from the intense dream and escape from the wilderness within us. It’s a terrific closer to an album that is surprisingly immersive and frighteningly beautiful.
Observed in a Dream is out now via the band’s own label Night Cult Records in Europe and Custom Made Music in North America. Mayflower Madame are Trond Fagernes (vocals, guitar); Rune Øverby (guitar); Petter Gudim Marberg (bass); and Ola Jørgen Kyrkjeeide (drums).
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