Though I’m slightly embarrassed to say it now, I didn’t think much of The Mayflies the first time I heard The Pity List . Sure, the tunes were catchy, the vocals pleasant, the attitude all together without pretension or subtext. Sure, it sounded A LOT like Matthew Sweet. But I considered myself to be a little bit over “Sick of Myself.” But the entire next day, I found myself humming a tune incessantly. I couldn’t quite place where it came from, until I got home and turned on my stereo—The Pity List still inside. Track 1, “From Florida to the Radio,” was that blasted melody, and I already knew most of the words. The rest sounded familiar—and reassuring.
It takes a certain talent to create a melody that gets caught in your brain like a splinter, and lodge there, deeply. Once I submitted to their wiles, I gave up a whole lot more—and realized why so many people are expecting such great things from these guys. The Mayflies have married the early Beatles and The Beach Boys, and brought them into the present in a straight line. It’s as if teens never ruled pop, and rock and roll had never abandoned guitars for sythesizers or drum ‘n’ bass. They’re straight forward, in your face, and mercilessly flirtatious. They’re begging you to fall head over heels in love—and you will.
The vocals of The Mayflies—usually in two- or three-part harmony—form the nucleus of their sound, which is heavy on happiness, steadiness, and leisure. Guitars pile on top of one another like kids playing steam roller, vocals cascade and blend, and songs meditate on movement—through relationshps, places, and time. The opening track, “From Florida to the Radio” sounds like it’s travelling through time, and transports you into The Mayflies world of plain and pensive observation. There’s everything from simple love songs withough melancholy (“I Was the One” and “I Wanna Be Your Gun”), reminiscent road-songs without regret (“From Florida to the Radio” and “The Great Big World”), and tunes that observe the downright strangeness of the everyday (“Sodium Penathol” or “Ballad of the Bailing Man). It’s almost as if every song starts and begins with “well, that’s just the way it is.”
The Mayflies are near the pinnacle of pop music—memorable, edible, light but also tight. Believe it and control it, like a lucid dream.
// Notes from the Road
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