“Raise the white flag, give in, and let your heart reset,” frontman Dylan McCartney booms in the opening track of Mardou’s debut LP, “Flash,” setting the tone for a record that’s shocking and open in its turns. Post-punk is a term so ubiquitous that it risks backfiring, but Cincinnati’s Mardou are a post-punk band who manage to circumvent any possibility of becoming static. The group, which shares members with loud and hooky punk outfit Vacation, takes this first album as an opportunity to work from many palettes. A good portion of the record sees McCartney’s voice working as a steady, dark force over a whirling scape of basslines that hearken to Christian Death and glistening, coldwave-inspired synth interludes—but there are moments where the mold is cracked open entirely. “Earth” is one of several tracks that spins into darkly existentialist territory, with McCartney reiterating the same lines urgently and earnestly to the point of trance, but the songs that immediately follow are refreshingly sunny. The band mentions having taken some cues from Guided By Voices, and that influence shines through in the grungy, blown-out guitar riffs on “It Happened To Me” and the doubled tenor vocals in glowing album closer “June”. Given Mardou tout the theme of renewal explicitly in so many of their songs—"I died, came back in June"—it's only appropriate they'd undertake to mirror it in this constant turnover of sound. You can hear the LP in full below.
Cold Grasp is out today via Moniker Records.