reviewed by Michael Thomas
We experience moments of doubt every single day. Who are we? Where do we fit into the world? Are our memories playing tricks on us?What do we ultimately want out of life? Casey Mecija, in her first solo outing, ponders these questions and more behind lush soundscapes and keeps her lyrics just enigmatic enough to leave wide interpretations of her conclusions.
Though Mecija hasn’t been dormant as a musician since the end of Ohbijou a few years ago, Psychic Materials was more or less a surprise release, announced a week in advance. And a look at the guest musicians on this albums makes this nearly an Ohbijou reunion. But this won’t be mistaken for a record by that band; strings and pop arrangements make way for roomier synth-oriented fare.
The “pieces of dreams about queerness, memory, diaspora, history and love,” as Mecija describes them, come across just like fragments, but with enough familiar sentiments to latch onto. It’s how a song like “Sounds That Mark Our Words” can make a meditation out of “In the house, there is a bed/Around the door, there is a frame.”
Elsewhere, however, we can equally attach ourselves to darker sentiments. “Condo City” is a result of looking inward and seeing only pain. “This War is More than Us” is about the fragility of relationships; two people do their best to be good to one another, but there’s a limit to how they can express it. As a result, a fight can be enough to tear apart what should be a strong bond.
But it’s not all gloom. “I’m Gonna Gun” and “Busted Heel” both have a very physical presence to them, especially lyrically. In the former, a drum machine and piano, with bits of guitar, lead Mecija forward as she sings “I will follow sound, a measure made of blood and bone.” The latter begins with a sound tinged by nostalgia before it moves into a percussive main melody. It’s hard not to latch onto part of the chorus: “All we’re looking for is a ceremony to bring us out of our bodies.”
Even the album cover is like a Rorschach test. What do you see when you look into it? Just as those answers will vary, so too will your experience within Mecija’s dreamed world.
Top Tracks: “We Feel the Same” ; “Sounds That Mark Our Words”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)