Feature: Magdalena Bay – Mercurial World

Our existences are comprised of the choices we make. Our lives are systems of constant beginnings and endings; webs of infinite choices. Do I get out of bed today? If I swipe right enough times, will I find true love? Can I keep enjoying this party, or would I rather bask in the quiet city light? We enter the online world and gain a means of connection, but lose the freedom of privacy. Do you play another level, or do you turn the console off? On Magdalena Bay’s first proper full-length, Mercurial World, lead vocalist Mica Tenenbaum waxes philosophical through a chrome coated array of sonics comprised from the best sounds of the last couple decades of pop.

A chiptune influence serves as a backbone for many of the tracks on Mercurial World, but the variety of styles on this one is dynamic. One moment we’re bathing in upbeat proclamations of growth bathed in waves of synthesizers, the next we’re transfixed by a reflective ballad. The production leans into 2010s electro-pop at certain moments, then quickly transitions to vaporized early 00s R&B, then into sprawling digitalized ambiance that could fit in on the soundtrack from a popular indie game. On standout track Prophecy, a cascade of digitalized strings bleeds into a dreamlike field of twinkling synthesizers. Mica Tenenbaum’s voice breezes onto the track as hazy sparse drums rumble in the background. These songs have true versatility. I could easily hear them on Radio Disney, but I could also hear them playing in an artsy Sci-Fi movie. Magdalena Bay plays during the personal catharsis scene at the cyberpunk club, or as the protagonist sits in her bedroom and uses advanced tech to re-engage with her most cherished dreams.

Despite a very clear focus on nostalgic tones, none of the record feels like recycled material. Lavish, danceable, memorable pop melodies vibrate from nearly every song. I’ve seen this album on a few 2021 year-end lists, so definitely check it. The cassette just dropped on December 10th, so grab it from their Bandcamp while you can.

Written by Elias Weinberg

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