A successful blend of myriad influences make for a scintillating debut for this band of young talents.
Olivia Mainville is a prime example of the historical hyper growth experienced by a multitude of modern Michigander musicians, ranging from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles to the Accidentals, that has the easy potential to top charts and garner accolades. At this point, the “She’s only (x) years old!” quip is as old as the molded American Idol bread that ushered it into the 21st century, though there is legitimate reason to cast a light on Mainville’s 19 years long life thus far. She isn’t a robot cast into a semi-convincing human shell like a vast variety of child music prodigies have been, but a young woman who’s made the right decisions for her career to have risen to the point that she has so speedily.
One solo debut as a gypsy swing artist that came full-circle following a subsequent tour with Caravan of Thieves and an amassing of four other local musicians into a band later, she’s expanded her sound, as well as her horizons, with the Aquatic Troupe. Though a bevy of up-and-coming indie musicians will claim to provide an eclectic, all-encompassing sound, few acts move forward to prove it whilst simultaneously not being your run of the mill, friendly neighborhood below average cover band. On Maybe the Saddest Thing, Mainville and her new band, comprised of fellow youthful talents in Andy Fettig, Bleu Quick, Libby DeCamp, and Ian Burke, showcase themselves as members of the former grouping.
Opening with an orotund horn, courtesy of Fettig, and an endearingly irreverent lyric and vocal delivery from Mainville on “Qualities”, a blend of the bombastic and the predetermined lay bestrewn across the song’s soundscape, exhibiting a savvy for bringing together multiple genre-based influences into the band’s fold. This signature stylization resurfaces per each song coming about thereafter in its own individualistic way, from the brooding cabaret fringe of “Only So Young” melding with more sweeping, anthemic harmonies reminiscent of a Delta Rae-esque characteristic, to the catchy ragtime and rock and roll influences palpable on the titular “Maybe the Saddest Thing”.
The most obvious centerpiece of the Aquatic Troupe’s first outing surfaces from out of their collaboration with David Bowie bandleader and lead guitarist Gerry Leonard, a lucky snag from Mainville’s merely reaching out to him and asking if he would be interested in working together. On “I Need Time”, Leonard doesn’t perform any fancy showboating of guitar acrobatics, instead opting to offer his musical sagacity in the best way possible: adding an extra several layers of atmosphere to the ethereal ballad. The song’s instrumentation is marked by not much more than Leonard’s guitar paired with plentiful reverb that fully culminates come chorus, where Mainville’s vocals soar with an emotional presence that creates quite the impressive focal point for a band’s debut.
The overall feeling that emits from Mainville and the Aquatic Troupe’s first studio outing is a jovial harkening back to times prior to their own from throughout Michigan’s illustrious musical history, from the folk music perpetuated from the Ark, to the showmanship of bands ranging from commercial rock and roll to garage punk and beyond. The talent exhibited by Mainville herself as a songwriter and performer standouts out as radio ready, astute, and just plain fun; accompanied by the monstrous talent that she’s found in the Aquatic Troupe, there’s a bounty of reasons to believe that they could be the next big indie thing.