Hailing from Wellington, New Zealand, Mermaidens' moody, angular indie rock takes inspiration from post-punk, grunge, and psychedelic rock as well as more melodious dream pop. They made their label debut with their second album, 2017's Perfect Body. Childhood friends Gussie Larkin (vocals/guitar), Lily West (vocals/bass), and Abe Hollingsworth (drums) formed Mermaidens in 2013 after attending local Camp a Low Hum music festival and deciding to try to play it the following year. They not only met that goal but recorded two EPs, Bones and O, both issued in 2014. Mermaidens self-released their first full-length, Undergrowth, in 2016, a year that saw them open shows for acts including Death Cab for Cutie, Sleater-Kinney, and Mac DeMarco. Flying Nun Records took notice and signed the group for their sophomore album, 2017's Perfect Body. Mermaidens were then hand-picked to open one of the New Zealand shows on Lorde's Melodrama world tour that November. Continuing to sharpen their sound with long-time collaborator James Goldsmith, they headed back to the studio the following year. The resulting Look Me in the Eye arrived via Flying Nun in September 2019. ~ Marcy Donelson
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 6, 2019 | Flying Nun Records
Mermaidens' second album for the Flying Nun label and third overall, Look Me in the Eye was named with a double meaning in mind. Inspired by shifting gender politics, stubborn power structures, and related frustrations, it refers to confrontation as well as intimacy. Continuing to sharpen their increasingly dark, angular sound, the New Zealand trio favor post-punk and psychedelic influences on an album that doesn't completely leave their mix of dream pop, grunge, and other textures behind. Recorded in 2018 with longtime studio collaborator James Goldsmith, Look Me in the Eye opens with "Crying in the Office," a tight, sinuous track with alternating, time-keeping guitar lines that persist through shifting time signatures and chord progressions. Things get predictably trippier on the sparse, noir-ish "Sleeptalker" ("You dream of far more guilty things"), a track that surprises with a metal-edged guitar-and-drums break. Refreshingly assertive musically and lyrically throughout, they don't mince words on "Best to Hate the Man," a dark, lumbering entry with an unsettling, skittering closed-hi-hat pattern that spreads to other surfaces like a pest. On the other end of the brightness spectrum, the lively "I Might Disappear" verges on dance-rock, offering synthesized textures, playful percussion, and a chorus of female voices that recurs on a couple of other tracks. While varied, Look Me in the Eye's post-punk colors are consistent throughout, as are self-assured vocals and eighth-note guitar patterns that are relentless to the point of bordering on needling. Underscoring their intent, closer "Priorities" leaves listeners with a jolt of distortion. ~ Marcy Donelson
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