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Mazarin - We're Already There

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Artist: Mazarin

Album: We're Already There

Label: I and Ear

Review date: Sep. 11, 2005

On Mazarin’s latest LP, We’re Already There, Quentin Stoltzfus has polished his gritty electro-pop to the point you can almost see your reflection in his synth melodies. Written and recorded in Philadelphia over the course of almost two years, We’re Already There features an indomitable entourage: Mazarin’s long-time percussionist Sean Byrne, bassist Mike Walker, and cameos by the Lilys’ Kurt Heasley, Icarus Line’s Don Devore, and Walt Martin of the Walkmen. No wonder it’s one of the summer’s treasures.

It’s as if Stoltzfus has spent the last two years trying to squeeze the entire evolution of rock into 11 tracks – from the breezy days of Pet Sounds to today’s electronic pop sensibilities. Stoltzfus tries everything here, toggling between intricate drum machine and organic backbeats. Byrne never hesitates to enrich the percussion with burnished bells, chimes, and the indispensable tambourine, like on the precious “Another One Goes By.” Tactful synth lines buzz inconspicuously, ensconced by steady guitar, especially on the two instrumental songs “Schroed(er)/inger” – which recalls early Flaming Lips – and “Kenyan Heat Wave,” a psychedelic jaunt.

Aside from his knack for penning melodies, Stoltzfus’s lyrics stand as tight as a fresh pack of Camel Lights. More importantly, they evoke an empathy from anyone who longs to overcome debilitating indifference and cede to their frightful passions. The opening track, “The New American Apathy,” renounces disinterest with the rhetorical question, “Who wants to be oblivious – the new American apathy, the news so safely keeps you occupied with lies (in) some political way?”

From then on, his mission to dispel boredom is clear. In “At 12 to 6,” one of the album’s most profound tracks, Stoltzfus expresses the frustration of “coming home to find you all alone, twirling your hair in circles.” He battles hesitation in “See You in the Evening” and loses, repeating the painfully threadbare term “whatever” ad nauseam; a modern-day white flag if there ever was one.

The final lines of the title track, which closes the album, illustrate a similar sentiment: “All your questions will be answered when you arrive, and we’ll have time to talk about anything you, anything you . . .” Anything you what?! Stoltzfus ends the song without a final word, the background guitar dyed in reverb and left dripping in a dark room, as if to make us think: what would we talk about?

By Andrew Bishop

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