Tuesday 18 February 2014

Making Marks - A Thousand Half-Truths

Album review by soul1@thesoundofconfusion.com

Isn't it annoying when you hear a band and their music is clearly influenced by another band or bands. To pluck a name out of the air, let's say The Smiths. You compare a new band to The Smiths, say you can hear the influence, and then the pretentious group claim they've never heard of them or something equally ridiculous. "All we really listen to is John Coltrane, if we sound like any other bands it's just a coincidence, we don't even like that band" - you know the kind of thing. Norwegians Making Marks are far from fitting that category; influences are worn on sleeves, they make jangly guitar music that's brushed with that certain ambience that you often find with Scandinavian bands. On debut album 'A Thousand Half-Truths' they don't attempt a sound-alike, but they without question know what music they like and they aim to offer their own take on it.

Not only do they do this with some catchy pop songs ('Bruises' is classic heartwarming indiepop, as is 'Barcodes'; 'Forgive And Forget' is The Housemartins meeting The Mary Onettes; you will have heard many songs like 'Falling In Love Again' but that doesn't dampen the effect; 'Ticket Machine' is a jaunty delight), but they also serve up some more thoughtful and pensive numbers ('Uten En Tråd' sounds very touching, but as it's the only song in their native tongue we only have the atmosphere to go off; 'Line Spinning' is a sad song with a light at the end of the tunnel; there's the late-night lament of the brassy title-track and closer 'Flying High Forever' has the sound of a sentimental finale). 'Lemon Sheets' is somewhere in the middle, a bit like the lovelorn vibe of some of Belle & Sebastian's work. There are some wonderful lyrics here. For example: "she calls me late at night... that's not my name", "let's go out tonight, let's hit the financial district" - both from 'Barcodes'.

To reinforce the fact that they know they belong to a lineage of past guitar bands, they leave plenty of lyrical clues as to what's in their record collection (a few Beatles records for starters), and some of these are big surprises. In fact, if there hadn't been the sad case of an internet drinking game allegedly causing the deaths of some teenage participants recently (and the fact that I don't drink anyway), you could invent a Making Marks drinking game by taking a shot every time you hear them borrow a lyric or mention a song title. Here are a few to be going on with: "we're all the real Slim Shady now", "we can work it out" ('Like Spinning'); "golden slumbers" (A Thousand Half-Truths'); "pale blue eyes" ('Flying High Forever'); "there is a light that never goes out" is from 'Ticket Machine' which doesn't stop at lyrics and lifts the riff from 'A Teenager In Love' by The Pains Of Being Pure at Heart as well. Further listening may uncover some others, and further listening is likely to be something you partake in, as despite this album making familiar noises, it makes them incredibly well.

Making Marks' website

Stream the album in full

Buy the album

Catch them live:

WED 19 FEB Birthdays, London, UK

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