Not so much a greatest hits as a compelling insight to their creative journey and imagination so far, US indie pop outfit The Mystery Plan recently unveiled their sixth album You Also Have Eyes. Uniting select tracks from several previous records and new songs, it is a record that immerses the listener in a dream world of suggestion and fantasy, a melodic landscape of wonder if you wish, but an encounter equally evocative of the real world we all embrace.
Produced by Jason Herring, Rob Tavaglione and the legendary and regular collaborator John Fryer, You Also Have Eyes epitomises the beguiling nature of The Mystery Plan’s music and its exploratory nature since the Charlotte, North Carolina outfit emerged in 2010. The quintet of Jason Herring, Amy Herring, Jefferson Chester, Otis Hughes and Patty McLaughlin has woven eleven EPs and albums since that first day, each in their own way a source of fascination which in rich supply within this new outing.
Also featuring contributions by Micah Gaugh (The Veldt / Apollo Heights / Dope Sagittarius), Rob Tavaglione and Snap Nation, You Also Have Eyes opens with Electric Love and instantly ears are caressed in sound and Amy’s seductive tones. A pulsating groove lurks as the song expands its radiance, rhythms a crisp resonance in the melodic and atmospheric luminescence that exudes from the bands transfixing encounter.
The Golden Moon and Silvery Sea follows and brews its own individual glow around a thickly fertile bassline. That shimmer continues to quiver as keys coax a summery stroll in song and imagination alike, all the while seducing the senses with siren-esque beauty. A rapture of sound and light, the track resonates with the thickly established and acclaimed trip-hop meets haunting electronics aspect of the band’s sound.
The following We All Get Down (Ian Masters mix) similarly has that warm glow to its breath and presence, a track which flirts the fantastic in its pastoral touch and surreal air while successor Midnight Trail Ride courts a matching suggestion of something out of the ordinary with its romantic intimacy and uncanny intimation. Both tracks transport thoughts and imagination to an almost other-worldly landscape yet each equally lends its creative whispers to a more familiar earth.
An infestation of body and spirit comes with Al Gore Rhythms, a puppeteer of trip hop, hip hop and alternative funk that invades limbs with a mischievous mix of Massive Attack and the Tom Tom Club. Jazz inclined too and another on the side of surreal, the atmospheric drama fuelled song continues to hit the sweet spot as the day it was first devoured a couple years back, setting up the appetite for the compelling world of new track Silver Lining. Featuring Charlotte rapper Big Supreme (a.k.a. Chris Jones) on vocals, the song is “an ode to looking at the bright side of things”, written and no doubt partly inspired by the Covid pandemic. A collusion of dreamy imagination and earthly dilemma, the lead single from the release simply encourages keen investigation of the album on its own and providing another rich reward for that exploration.
The following pair of Wonder Why and Those Stars revel in the on-going alternative instincts of The Mystery Plan, the first equally thick in craft and creative drama as it is pop temptation. The outstanding second is similarly woven but aligned to a smoky jazz and hazily lit serenade and for our money one of the most captivating song from the band ever and they have cast a fair few as this release proves, indeed next up Always a potent confirmation with its tempestuous mix of beauty and foreboding shadows.
Long Way To Heaven is another we have always had in our passions, its nebulous melodies and heated sonic sighs as irresistible as the magnetic vocals which further light up the song. Like a glimpse of some kind of utopia, the song again simply bewitched before we get a new version of earlier track, Wonder Why, it resurfacing in a Peter Anderson mix to again leave ears thickly satisfied.
The final pair of Before You Go and new track Weird Things People Do brings You Also Have Eyes to a fine close, the first a transfixing ballad from a realm of melodic euphoria and matching sonic light though again a few shadows insinuate in sound and breath. Its instrumental successor is equally born of a dreamlike state, its air and body darker with a tinge of shadowy possibilities but no less hypnotic and rich for the imagination.
As suggested You Also Have Eyes is much more than a best of collection, it is a true breath and exploration into the heart and dextrous creativity of The Mystery Plan with its new offerings also a clue to equally intriguing times to come.
You Also Have Eyes is out now via Ten Millimeter Omega Recordings on vinyl, CD and digitally; available @ https://themysteryplan.bandcamp.com/album/you-also-have-eyes
Pete RingMaster 02/09/2021
Copyright RingMaster Review