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Mear – Soft Chains Review

For fans of Imogen Heap and Frou Frou

What does Mear sound like?

A mixture of early 2000s indie pop and Nordic acoustic pop.

The review of Mear – Soft Chains

Electronica duo Mear has hit a very subtle mix of indie and synth-pop with plenty to dance to on their debut “Soft Chains”. Clever production, borrowing from the best Nordic pop sensibilities and smearing some sadness over the top works as charm.

photo of Mear
Mear – photo by Jen Squires

My immediate impressions of Mear took Me to Frou Frou, Imogen Heap, Sylvan Esso and Mesadorm. Each song is built on a simple synth melody with a mix of electric and real drums giving that indie mix. There is always an ethereal haze omnipresent and it gives weight and gravitas to the tracks too. The dramatic marching ballad “Pinhead” moves from dreamy synths to a dramatic synth choir and keytar solo for its outro. Mixed with dense organ shimmers of “Dust I” and “Dust II”, there is a cinematic scope to Mear’s music.

The album isn’t afraid to go for the pop hook though. It just delivers them in less conventional ways. “Perfect Mess” is an absolute bop that brings out ABBA dance chords and pace whilst withholding the drums until key explosive moments. “Second Sight” brings lazy trip-hop beats to beautifully hit that soft love punch like a chilled Lamb or Portishead. Elsewhere the acoustic “Soft Chains” evokes a Lisa Miskovsky traditional Nordic pop-folk song structure and vibe. It hits all the marks for a mobile swaying concert finale. There are a lot of traditional chord and song structures throughout the album and it is that vibe which pulls Mear towards that “good Nordic pop” genre. The softer, softest approach on most of the songs to keys, drums and vocal delivery makes it a pillowy album too.

If anything, I wanted a little more of the pop sensibilities to pull through as the album continues. Many of the uptempo numbers are frontloaded on the album and by the end, we have a roll of very beautiful ballads drenched in distant synths. Stunning closer “I’ll Love You” feels particularly unique as they straddle pop, folk and synth with wisps of 80s power ballad thrown in. Then it implodes into an electro-rock outro full of beats and grinding synths. Mear are chameleons throughout this transition from synth to acoustic but that switch of pace and style may mean some listeners might want to rearrange the track order for more balance. It’s a great debut and one that sets up Mear for being a fantastic indie-pop duo with tons of potential. Whether you want to dance around the living room or feel whimsically lost in emotion, Mear has you covered.

Recommended track: Perfect Mess

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Mear - Soft Chains

8

8.0/10

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