Those new to Marnie Stern will wonder who this force of nature with the quick set of fingers is, but four albums in and Marnie is in a more poppier, tuneful state. Fear not Marnie traditionalists, the familiar, fierce guitar-shredding talents are there. Angular riffs, jerky beats and tempo changes are still the order of the day but it’s been tempered and the frenetics of Stern’s previous releases have been paired back to allow the melodies to develop. While long time drummer Zach Hill jumped ship to play with Death Grips, his successor, Kid Millions, is more than aptly driving Stern’s talent into port.
First single from The Chronicles of Marnia, is also the album opener. Year Of The Glad pumps into existence, “And everything’s starting now,” Stern wails over her renowned finger-tapping chops. The songwriting skills are tighter, and, in Noonan there’s a new level of lyrical candidness that we have not been privy to before. Tracks such as Immortals demonstrates a vocal manner not unlike Life Without Buildings’ Sue Tompkins or Ponytail’s Molly Siegel. The wonderful East Side Glory is a glorious swoonfest, and if I had to pick on something it would be that this quieter side of Marnie could be brought out more. Ending with the climactic Hell Yes, Chronicles clocks in at just over 30 mins and we are left with a fantastical album, a shimmery, vibrant affair. It certainly seems that all is well in the creative world of Marnia.