steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Marshmallow Coast

"Phreak Phantasy" CD


Genre: indie pop, synth-pop

Athens, GA

October 2009

All keys and vocals, Phreak Fantasy leaves the listener with an intriguing case of "I could do that too" crossed with a sincere respect for how well the whole thing has been executed. These are strangely infectious synth-pop tunes, seemingly straightforward in their manner yet deceptively infectious. Marshmallow Coast's Andy Gonzales has been at this for a long time, and is one of the longer-standing members of the Elephant 6 troupe; his experience is evident on these nine songs, which manage rough-around-the-edges brilliance that will have you humming in your sleep.

Strangely enough, the album's first song, "Nasty Dream," is one of its weaker moments; based around a funky synth line that imbues the piece with a nifty disco aesthetic, it would have clearly benefitted from a stronger vocal part. Still, the real reason it sticks out is because it's followed by such a strong set of songs. Sublimely pretty "Millionaire," which boasts a well-placed cello part and a miraculously infectious vocal melody, is a simply ingenious pop fragment. Meanwhile, "Hangin' on a Cloud" is a brilliantly catchy exercise in extravagant bedroom synth-pop that slyly transitions from hook to hook, and guitar-led "Lonely Days" exudes a vague Brit-pop influence. Also worthy of mention is finale "Phreak Phantasy," which is a quirky, Soft Cell influenced experiment.

As the liner notes explain, Gonzales intends this to be his "R-rated" album, lyrically speaking. The subject matter really isn't that bad, although there's a quirky sort of edginess present. Lines like "Naked chicks here I am/Don't regret it for the rest of your life/When you could have a good time" and "Don't cry little girl/Just fucking show me where your money's at" toy with a sense of brusque machismo that's at odds with Gonzales' apparent sensibility. As such, the album seems almost like an intellectual catharsis from Andy's perspective - certainly a surprising affair from a band named Marshmallow Coast.

Certainly, Phreak Phantasy is a decidedly idiosyncratic and somewhat disjointed album, but that doesn't stop it from being one of 2009's more intriguing efforts. I'm glad I had the chance to hear it. Just skip the hidden track.

marshmallow coast's myspace

(not from this album)

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 9 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2009]