Northern Michigan's Modern Mal crafts an intriguing album about love, family, and loss, while blending country sounds with noir, pysch, surf, and tropical sounds.
Modern Mal is a duo from Northern Michigan (Rachel Brooke and Brooks Robbins) who mix traditional country sounds with a bit of noir, doo-wop, surf sounds, and tropical flair. Their new album releasing tomorrow, The Misanthrope Family Album, is something of a concept record as it explores the feelings of loss that arose following the death of a family friend that they were caring for. This figure is the misanthrope at the center of the record and, not surprisingly, a good bit of melancholia surrounds the proceedings. However, dark those feelings may be, Brooke's voice adds a necessary lightness and brightness that play with the dark undercurrents while lending the music a summery vibe. Those seemingly opposing forces balance each other out and make this album an intriguing piece of art.
Modern Mal tells PopMatters that "the idea for Modern Mal was conceived a few years ago. We named the album, The Misanthrope Family Album because we made it with our closest friends and family, people who are all incredibly talented and people we can trust. We are all somewhat of loners, cynics, and recluses who have found strength with each other as like-minded introverted musicians.The album has so many different flavors and colors, that it doesn’t necessarily fit neatly in any genre box. But although it might be hard to find a home stylistically, we feel that there is a mystic thread of shared energy weaving through it, as though everyone can take some part in the experience, and enjoyment of it and find their own piece of home with our music. I can personally say that with this record, I felt like I wasn’t trapped inside the boundaries of country music. It was liberating being able to explore and create something brand new. Fitting into a genre perfectly is predictable and boring, that’s the last thing we want to be."