Massage Still Life

Mt. St. Mtn Records
20th September 2021

Format Info

Coke Bottle Clear LP

Limited Coke Bottle Green vinyl, 250 copies only for the UK.

Any future pressing will be on black vinyl. Massage feature Alex Naidus from Pains At Being Pure At Heart. Recorded by Lewis Pesacov (Fool’s Gold, Foreign Born, Peel’d). Massage was supposed to be low-stakes, no big deal “anti-ambition,” as Andrew Romano, guitarist and vocalist, put it. The L.A.based jangle-pop group’s first album, 2018’s Oh Boy, was a sweet and simple weekend warrior’s affair, or more specifically, an every-other-Monday one, as the band members gathered to bash out songs that offered messy but heartfelt tribute to their chosen heroes: The Feelies, the Go-Betweens, Twerps, Flying Nun.
For Romano, not taking things too seriously is a dead-serious affair: “Nothing kills the kind of music we want to make faster than the sense that a band is trying too hard,” he says. The kind of music Massage makes sunny, bittersweet, tender is less a proper genre than a minor zip code nested within guitar pop. Take a little “There She Goes” by the La’s, some “If You Need Someone” by the Field Mice; the honey-drizzled
guitars from The Cure’s “Friday I’m In Love,” a Jesus & Mary Chain backbeat, and you’re almost all the way there. Indie pop, jangle pop, power pop whatever you call it, pushing too hard scares the spirit right out of this sweet, diffident music, and Massage have a touch so light the songs seem to form spontaneously, like wry smiles. Still, on their sophomore effort, Still Life, they manage to take a quantum leap forward in songwriting, production, and depth, all somehow without seeming to try. These 12 deft songs are full of latesummer sunlight and deep shadows, pained grins and shared jokes, shy declarations of love and quietly nursed heartbreak. Still Life
resurrects a brief, romantic moment in the late-’80s, right after post-punk and immediately before alt-rock, when it seemed like any scrappy indie band might stumble across a hit. When Andrew Romano and Alex Naidus first met in 2007, Naidus had just joined a band with his friends Kip Berman and Peggy Wang that was about to stumble into many of them.

When Naidus finally left Pains for L.A. in 2013, two hit albums and a few world tours later, he started playing with Romano to recapture the no-stakes, suburban-garage joy of making music for its own sake. It was “friendship incarnate,” Naidus remembers. The other members came from within the friend circle Gabrielle Ferrer (keyboard/vocals) is Romano’s sister-in-law, Michael Felix (drums) is one of Naidus’ best friends, and David Rager (bass) is a childhood friend of Felix’s. When Felix moved to Mexico City in early 2020, Naidus’ wife, Natalie de Almeida, stepped in. The result is the finest batch of songs they’ve ever produced.

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