Guitar and piano led the new album from US band Makar (pronounced Mah-Kar) is a release which soon forms a strong engagement with the ear treating it to an open weave of thoughtful melodic imagination and easily pleasing pop sounds. Ranging from indie rock to folk pop with slithers of quirky invention, Funeral Genius makes an endearing and intriguing piece of pleasure to spend time with.
Formed 2002-03, Makar consists of New Jersey girl Andrea DeAngelis (vocalist/guitarist) and New Yorker Mark Purnell (vocals/ piano). With shows at the likes of Luna Lounge, CBGBs gallery, Knitting Factory and Pianos under their belt the pair wrote and released their eighteen song strong debut album 99 Cent Dreams in 2005. Three years in the making it won immediate and lingering acclaim across radio stations, media, and the public. 2008 saw the duo begin work on Funeral Genius another three year project, and upon its recent release the band again started being soaked in full and eager enthusiasm for its sounds which now having heard it is understandable. With the addition of Mark Nilges and drummer Dawn McGrath on the album Makar quite simply light up the air with twelve excitable songs which even if indie pop is not your preferred aural medium cannot fail to leave a warm smile inside.
The title track opens up the release with an instant sunny disposition despite the theme of the personal negativity some
people carry through every day. There is a underlying eighties feel to the song and the album as a whole in that it reminds of The Passions a little but more of a more restrained but no less fun Martha and the Muffins. With a melodic eagerness and the enchanting vocals of DeAngelis playing around the great bass and the striding piano, the song is a very welcoming start to the album.
The following I Wanna Know What I Don’t Know and Belong Here continue the fun and inviting beginning. The first is a resourceful mix of indie rock and bouncing show piano with a seventies vocal flavouring, like an amalgamation of Throwing Muses and The Sundays with Middle Of The Road. It captures the imagination from the start with a familiarity and open inducement to join in and though it is not as eager as its predecessor it leaves one more than satisfied. The second of the pair continues the fine blend of piano and guitar topped by excellent the angelic vocals of DeAngelis all firmly and skilfully veined by the bass of Nilges and beats of McGrath.
Tracks like Bottle of Beauty mixes things up nicely on the release with Purnell taking the vocal lead whilst I Can’t Tell You To Stay offers a compelling bluesy groove to its flow though Nilges is the star on this particular track. The song twists and turns continually throughout to make for one of the more unpredictable and delightfully thrilling songs on the release.
There are a couple of moments where the album misses the mark though it is more down to personal preference to be fair, but In The Know with its limited breath and banshee harmonic shrieks left more puzzlement than joy whilst the closing lo-fi raw recording of Devil In A Dream seemed like a track too far for these ears. With intelligent and compelling songs like America Where Are You and Show Me That Look In Your Eyes making up the album personal tastes make a small impact of the pleasure gained from Funeral Genius.
Though not destined to be a consistent player here it is impossible not to be impressed and fully gratified with the quality songwriting, exciting melodies, and some of the best indie pop tunes heard this year. Makar have an open invitation for all to join their party with Funeral Genius it is just up to you to go an enjoy.