Populous with Short Stories

Drawn in Basic

by Ian Mathers

6 November 2008


Italian producer Andrea Mangia has already produced two pleasing, often beautiful albums for Morr Music, and collaborations like “My Winter Vacation” with Dose One (from 2005’s Queue for Love) amply demonstrate his facility at crafting productions for vocalists that go beyond fitting to a kind of symbiotic bliss, but it’s not until this album-length collaboration with New York’s Short Stories (aka Michael McGuire) that he’s really realized his potential.

Over sixteen brief tracks, Mangia and McQuire craft buzzy, soft focus pop songs that split the difference between the synth-rock heroics of days gone by and the more insular, gentler end of shoegaze and dream pop.  Even the instrumentals show a marked increase in focus and melodic sense to Populous’ previous work (the brief “Raimondo” being the cream of the crop), but when McQuire brings his wounded and boyish voice and knack for strangely affecting emotional opacity to bear, Drawn in Basic really hits home. The quietly devastating “The Holy See” and the modestly epic closer “Heaven Knows” in particular rival anything put out this year by far more lauded acts. Despite the album title, none of Mangia and McGuire’s work here feels rudimentary or limited; instead, it’s consistently lush, inviting and rewarding. Here’s hoping this collaboration isn’t a one-off.

cover art

Populous with Short Stories

Drawn in Basic

(Morr Music)
US: 30 Sep 2008
UK: 30 Sep 2008

Drawn in Basic



We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.


//Mixed media

Call for Essays on Topics in Culture; Present, Past and the Speculative Future

// Announcements

"PopMatters (est. 1999) is a respected source for smart long-form reading on a wide range of topics in culture. PopMatters serves as…

READ the article