Saturday, December 18th, 2021

ME REX – Galena

Aleatoric music = regression to the mean…


Aaron Bergstrom: It’s only a gimmick if it doesn’t work. From distortion to scratching to Auto-Tune, artists have consistently found innovation in taking the emergent technology of the day, twisting it to their own creative ends. It was only a matter of time before someone took on our all-streaming, all-shuffling Spotify overlords, and in 2021 this task fell to South London upstarts ME REX. After a series of promising EPs whose dense, melodic confessionals borrowed the best bits of Los Campesinos! and Frightened Rabbit, the band swung for the fences with Megabear, a cinematic collection of fifty-two vignettes (most around thirty seconds long) made to be experienced on shuffle. From that swirling soundscape emerged “Galena,” the album’s nominal single, created by piecing together five representative sections. I think I could probably come up with a better five-song sequence (there are more than three hundred million possibilities, but consider “Crystal Palaces” — “Tin” — “Pulled Apart” — “Reclaimed From the Water” — “Moon Rising”), but that isn’t a criticism; that’s the whole point.

Ian Mathers: Knowing nothing about the band, but being aware that this is five recombinable fragments out of 52 on the record it comes from, I expected something more frenetic and/or dayglow. It does kind of feel like one song — I wonder if the rest is similarly samey in pace and tone (not just BPM), such that shuffle playthroughs sound like one 52-minute song. As proof of concept it works pretty well — but I wish the singer’s voice wasn’t such a barrier for me.

Claire Biddles: Sorry to ME REX but this is the voice of my personal antichrist 

Katherine St Asaph: I started collecting cards during the pandemic — nonstandard ones, bespoke ones, weirdass ones, ones among which a custom tarot deck with a song for every card would theoretically fit perfectly. One thing I like about my card collection is that it has yet to sing at me like this over a Jason Robert Brown arrangement.

Iain Mew: As a demonstration for a mix-and-match approach to song sequencing, this works really well, presenting a flow which is meandering, but comes off as completely natural and introduces plenty of new angles along the way. It does all just sound like Bastille doing competent power pop plus a “Bound 2” intro, but I almost certainly enjoy it more than I would a conventional song of that.

Vikram Joseph: What ME REX have put together on Megabear is clever, high-concept and almost certainly absolutely painstaking in its process. I haven’t spent much time with the album, but listening to “Galena” it feels like the whole endeavour is sort of akin to the idea of making one’s own pasta from scratch: I respect the hustle, but I also know that you can achieve similarly yearning, wholehearted indie pop by far more conventional means. “Galena” is a very smooth listen, and that’s because each of the 52 fragments that make up Megabear — five of which are presented here — share a key signature, a time signature, and numerous melodic and lyrical motifs. It comes from a very distinct lineage of British indie pop, which you can (and should) trace from Tellison to Tall Ships to Tigercats via the Alcopop! and Big Scary Monsters back catalogues, but sits decidedly at the more sedate end of that roster (ME REX are much more fun — and much more moving — operating at a less deliberate pace). So as a deeply cerebral but in practice relatively banal concept, this is a [6]; scored as a song in its own right, it’s… yep, also a

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