'1/2' EP Review: More showcase their kaleidoscopic approach to pop-rock with a dazzling array of timeless gems
With some lovely melodic and psychedelic flourishes in their genre and era-blurring brand of bright indie rock, More prove that they are more than the sum of their parts
The eclectic LA-based pop-rock duo known as More (stylized as more in lower case) will be dropping their debut EP '1/2' this weekend on July 17. The outfit consists of the talented multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Kane Ritchotte and Malcolm McRae who are both gifted artistes in their own right. As a seasoned sessions musician, Ritchotte has already played with the likes of Portugal. The Man and Grouplove, while McRae had quit architectural school and hopped from Alabama to Los Angeles to better showcase his charismatic voice and musical prowess.
The multi-faceted duo originally started off as acquaintances but soon forged an indelible bond thanks to their mutual artistic respect and passion for great tunes and vintage sounds. Their genre and era-blurring music blend pop, rock, art, film and literary influences together in a seamless fashion. It's like they took the best bits of John Lennon, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Harry Nilsson, David Bowie, Can, Kendrick Lamar and Beck —resulting in a sound that is simultaneously modern and timeless in nature.
"There's a bit of competitiveness like with siblings, but that's how we've evolved; we've become as close as siblings. It's that closeness that allows for the sum of the two of us to be maybe more than each of us could individually offer," said McRae, offering some insight into their band name. more were given a leg up when they caught the attention of the producer, Tony Berg, who is well known as an industry guru in the mainstream music scene.
As a pioneering A&R representative and talented musician himself, Berg has been instrumental in the development of popular artistes like Beck and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Berg was intrigued by More's dazzling musical potential, and decided to produce the duo's upcoming EP, '1/2'. Ritchotte (vocals, drums, guitar, bass, and percussion) and McRae (vocals, guitar) recorded the EP's five tracks at the celebrated Sound City Studios in Los Angeles, with Berg contributing guitar, bandura, and keys. Collectively, the duo plan on releasing their music to the world through two EPs, the first of which is simply titled '1/2' (as in, part one of two).
The opening track 'God's In The Details' is a warm, bouncy romp through a feel-good yet melancholic soundscape, reminiscent of vintage Flaming Lips fare. The lyrics "My God wears a crown / Of pointed threats via hand-me-downs / Too worn to keep around / When two’s a crowd in a crowded house" are bolstered by deep, lush pianos and church-organ synths that lean towards gospel-rock.
There are also some homages to Leonard Cohen and John Lennon thrown in for good measure. One of the alternate music videos of the song stars the popular actress Riley Keough who co-directed it with Gina Gammell. You can check that out by clicking here. The second track 'Settled In' feels a lot like a Jim Reeves Christmas song that finds its home amongst warped keys and electro beats. Surreal synths and psychedelic electronic flourishes add to the song's mystique.
The duo’s sublime vocal harmonies build-up to cinematic heights and this track is a great example of contemporary songwriting and production at its peak. The LA-based indie filmmaker Justin Hopkins has also worked on the videos for ‘Settled In’ and ‘God’s In The Details’, adding a whole new visual perspective to these lovely songs.
'Elaborate Attractions' is a jaunty and groovy pepper-upper of a song with a cool, back-alley '90s Brit-rock vibe to it. Galloping jangly guitars build into an exquisitely bluesy and breezy guitar solo which seems like a lost art in today’s modern music. Kane Ritchotte is on fire on the drums here and his incredible talent and immense passion for music are clearly evident on this track.
The duo's penchant for seamlessly transitioning between moods, voices and styles is perfectly encapsulated on ‘All American Guts’. Groovy yet melancholic progressions akin to ‘God's In The Details’ are accented by gorgeous synths. These give way to electro-dream breaks highlighted by crisp and delicate electric guitars. The mood, feel and structure of the song would make this track an ideal opening theme for a television show since it's so cinematic in nature.
The band then wraps up their debut EP with the rousing ‘The Way’. Melancholy violins and deep, soulful church organs are countered by oddly comforting synths, in this deeply contemplative track that is juxtaposed with fun grooves. All things considered, more’s '1/2' EP is a superbly produced and finely-crafted offering. It features classic song structures, strong melodies and psychedelic dabbling filtered through expressive guitars, dextrous drums and great vocal harmonies.
“The general concept of the band from the beginning was to take the craftsmanship of songs that were typically more popular in every other time than now and to try to present them in a way that doesn’t sound [like a] relic or novelty,” Ritchotte revealed. Berg’s craftsmanship can be heard on every track and fans of bands like Can, Tame Impala and even The Moody Blues are in for an absolute treat. This five-track EP may clock in at under 20 minutes but it serves as a veritable time-capsule of feel-good pop-rock grooves, from the 1980s right up to the present day.