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The Mallard, ‘Finding Meaning in Deference’ – Album Review

Albums with great stories are not released every week, though most bands, labels and publicists believe otherwise. But when a record arrives from a group that no longer exists, as is the case with the Mallard’s ‘Finding Meaning in Deference,’ the back-story is often the most interesting part.

When bands break up, it’s not necessarily a reflection of the quality of their work, though few musicians are likely to say, “Wow, we are creating the best music imaginable. Let’s call it quits.” For the Mallard, the story revolves around frontwoman Greer McGettrick, who simply grew sick of her songs, playing in a band, traveling and everything else involved with the Mallard. As the title suggests, the album represents her giving up the struggle.

The problem is that the Mallard don’t sound like a band giving up on the record. They sound ready to claw through walls and bite through glass windows just to hold you down while they play you their songs. Their sound, labeled “dark garage rock,” is more of a garage-post-punk hybrid — a strange combo with lo-fi tics that always seem to benefit the songs.

Along the way, indications of what might have broken up the band seem to seep through. Opener ‘A Form of Mercy’ is anxious and tense, even bleak, but it moves ahead with running force. On ‘Crystals and Candles,’ the Mallard sound like the Danish band the Figurines, which is almost surely a coincidence but an awesome reference to hear regardless.

As the album progresses, songs like ‘Out the Door’ prove deceptively complicated. They’re krauty and psychedelic in their repetition, and it’s remarkable how energetic and haunting they are without losing their sense of fun. And that’s what really makes it a bummer that the Mallard never got a chance to progress. ‘Finding Meaning in Deference,’ despite its complex emotional range, is enjoyable — and a grower on repeat listens.

The album concludes with its most unpolished trio of tunes, and on ‘The Communist’ and ‘Iceberg,’ the Mallard sound determined to end their career on a guitar-smashing note. It works, and we can only hope that McGettrick resurfaces in a new project very soon, because though the music she makes can be draining to hear, there is a power embedded in her songs and how she presents them. In essence, we find meaning in their swan song, and we most definitely are not satisfied with this as an ending.

8 out of 10 rating

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