Mathias Mental makes his own line-drawn posters, his own comic-book album art, his own cd-rs tossed out with a casual brilliance. He’s a francophone who sings in anglophone, who – I bet – could play a saxophone; but who here is satified with samplers and synths, old drum machines and fresh tambourines. In some ways it’s the bedroom pop-stuff that worked for everyone from Arab Strap to The Unicorns. But Mathias Mental is like the opposite of Falkirk’s Arab Strap: his music is a naive, optimistic pop. A music that one industry-head called “positive emo” — thinking deep about its feelings as it grins dumbly ear to ear.
And more gladenning still is the way the innocent, happy lyrics get teamed-up with with hooks! With handstamped, highkicking melodies, sweetened harmonies. Lots of people do this lofi stuff, but few are able to make it fly with so many streamers.
On “555-LOVE”, everything’s working up to the chorus at the 3:30 mark – the overlap of voices, the laughing-at-himself, the ebullience of Mathias’ feelings for his girl. “I love you night and day / I want you here with me / everywhere and every way!” It’s a little dirtier, a little lustier than the likes of Jens Lekman. You can’t imagine Mathias Mental mooning away for someone; instead he’d be strolling St-Denis, gorging on pie, playing some street hockey.
“She’s a Character” is spoken word, Quebecois accent at the fore, bells and beats dancing all over like an LCD Soundsystem song that’s not quite so worried about being cool. I love how he talks about when the girl sits down: “With the girl / like that / on my lap / it felt / … / … / unconventional.” It captures so much of the Montrealais sense of humour – the sideways grin, the joy, the cleverness and dumbness put together in a single club sandwich. The french fries, gravy and cheese curds.
Mathias Mental’s posters are recognizable from here-and-there in the city, and he’s attracted some attention at places like CHOQ , but by and large he’s still an unknown. He was one of the biggest discoveries in the recent Pop Montreal listening sessions, where the festival screened almost 2,000 applicants, and will be playing as part of the fest in early October. In the meantime we can resign ourselves to these songs, and to the brilliant, wry, line-drawn and often-just-weird videos that he’s posted to YouTube.
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about new music in cities.