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Microwave – Much Love

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Oct 2, 2016.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    As I stare down my mid-twenties, I see the rest of my life hurtling toward me at full speed like a freight train with the brake lines cut. I feel my experience is nothing short of ubiquitous among those of my age group. Each of us may be staring down different issues: a full-time job that is perhaps not an actual career, mounting student loan debt, relationship troubles, and more. That uncertainty seems to linger there, just under the surface, at all hours of the day. These are the mounting insecurities and anxieties and, let’s face it, sometimes depression, that come with a perceived lack of direction in life.

    We are all searching for someone who is trying to find that same meaning. It’s no surprise then, that the music we love often reflects back these same uncertainties, the same occasional short-lived self-loathing, and the probing existentialism of everyday life. And no record this year has struck that particular nerve for me in quite the way that Microwave’s Much Love has.

    Much Love is Microwave at their least filtered, their most lovably crass (“I’m the nemesis of fun with soggy hot dog buns from spilling warm beer in my trunk”) and, perhaps most importantly, their most nihilistic. Lyrically, it’s about those moments which so often follow late night soul-searching worrying sessions, when you just decide that life is too short to worry and follow your bliss, no matter how disastrous the night gets.

    It dissects moments like this on the Pinegrove-esque “Dull,” where vocalist Nathan Hardy extols the virtues (or lack thereof) of a late-night booty call: “It makes me sick inside, to be calling you up this late at night, but that’s what I do.” It’s only after the fact that we realize how empty these interactions become (“Now the silence is cold and every time we talk it’s dull and awkward”). Similarly, the mid-tempo “Neighbors” kicks off as something of a nod to the doo-wop era, and develops into a rollicking weekend anthem, complete with a sing-along about being too messed up to walk all the way back to your parked car.

    Hardy’s best moments lyrically come on “Drown,” a song about becoming attached to someone failing to be a better person, so you can feel better about your own insecurities by comparison. It’s these warring emotions of regret and self-esteem that form the final conflicting lines of the song: “I hate to be around you, I hope that you’ll stay.”

    But for me, the most relatable thing about Much Love is its perspective on spirituality. You see, Much Love comes from a place of religious upheaval. Hardy’s departure from his childhood upbringing in the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints colors the perspective of the record, leading to moments of anguished antipathy, like the closing moments of “Vomit,” where Hardy howls, “We just felt vulnerable without a God, without a crutch, there’s nowhere else, nobody else, nothing.” It’s the most vulnerable moment on a record full of introspection. In this moment, I see just how much the break with the church has affected Hardy, and it makes me assess my own connections to spirituality and organized religion, a relationship which has been tenuous at best in the past.

    The bluesy “Whimper” is one of the most intricately constructed songs of Microwave’s career. On their previous record, Stovall, they pushed such a sense of urgency that there is no way they could have pulled of the ethereal timbre of a song like this. Hardy gives one of the best vocal performances of the year on this track, balancing a sort of self-loathing with an impressively delicate tone as he delivers the song’s final lines: “We’re not even friends. I’m just the means to an end. Still I’d give all my self-respect up just to be with you again.” And just when you think Hardy couldn’t have poured his sorrow into the track anymore, the song blasts back in from a fake ending with a pleading, desperate guitar solo — one of the most vibrant and cathartic moments on the entire record.

    The guitar solos, by the way, are some of the most audacious I have heard for an album in this genre of music — giving Bayside a run for their money. “Lighterless” and “Neighbors” both have guitar solos that also seem to unfold from the nowhere but compliment the song in such a brilliant way, perhaps because Microwave has some of the filthiest guitar tones in all of “emo” music. They also have one of the most steadying hands behind the kit in Tito Pittard, who turns in another exceptional performance. His drumming seems to have a simmering energy to it, even on songs where he is playing to a groove, like on “Whimper” or “Wrong.”

    The music on Much Love is a significant departure from the band’s debut Stovall, an album I also adored. The music is more maturely composed here, with significant thought given to not just the flow of the record but the transition between tracks. Each track flows slightly into the proceeding, which, while a minuscule feature, changes the experience of listening to the record dramatically. It gives Much Love an air of cohesion, a cohesion that is further reinforced by the record’s significantly improved, though still raw, production quality.

    While Hardy’s vocals are occasionally buried in the mix, especially on early album tracks like “Roaches” and “Lighterless,” these seem more like stylistic choices than sloppy mixing. Compositionally, the songs are much more mature as well, allowing the songs to be reserved in a way that nothing on Stovall was. “Wrong,” the beautiful, heart-wrenching closer to the album, is one of the more sparse songs in the band’s brief discography, allowing it the room-to-breathe to make the proper impact.

    All this leads to the conclusion that it is near-impossible to compare Stovall and Much Love. While Stovall is brimming with the energy of a new kid on the block complete with the inherent naivety, Much Love represents the next-door-neighbor who has been through it all before. Perhaps life is as meaningless as Microwave makes it seem, but I know that with two absolutely stellar album under their belt, Microwave will be the band that is soundtracking my attempts to find out.

  2. what


    Great review, this album is hitting me with feels left and right.
  3. I love this review almost as much as I love this album. You got a little repetitive near the end but I doubt I could have done better. Thanks for giving it the praise it deserves, hopefully more people will check it out!!
  4. The Lucky Moose

    I'm Emotional, I Hug the Block Prestigious

    Great review, makes we want to check out the album
  5. CMilliken


    Great review. I've listened to this album a ton. Wasn't sure what to think after my first listen, but I'm loving it now. Like you said, it's a departure from Stovall, but definitely in the best way possible.

    If you haven't listened to this album yet it is definitely worth your time, even your money.
  6. Aj LaGambina

    Hey man, we all can't be like you Supporter

    Exceptional review, @Craig Ismaili. This has been dominating my listening the past few weeks. Only really rivaled by All Get Out and Balance and Composure.
  7. Snewt

    Does whatever a spider can. Prestigious

    Excellent write-up, @Craig Ismaili. I love almost everything about this album and love the direction this band seems to be heading toward.
  8. Leftandleaving

    I will be okay. everything Supporter

    Well written review my friend. This album's super good. Not what I was expecting after Stovall
  9. Craig Ismaili

    @tgscraig Prestigious

    Do it. I think there's a little something here for everyone!

    I would somewhat agree, but i think that repetition was sort of the point. I hope more people check it out as well.
    I'm glad I have been listening for something like 3+ months now. It definitely takes a long time to sink in considering how much I loved Stovall and the split immediately. The tonal shift is definitely intriguin but can turn people off at first. Hope people stick around.

    Really should reach out about getting All Get Out already, especially if I'm (hopefully) interviewing Nathan this month. Life has been crazy though so I just haven't done so yet. Excited about hearing Balance too. I'm going to the release show Friday so that should be a good time.

    So glad you ended up digging it. I tried not too overhype it too much in our slack group cause I wanted people to check it out, but I do really enjoy this record.
    Aj LaGambina likes this.
  10. Colin Your Enthusiasm

    It's nobody's battle but your own. Prestigious

    I still need to give this a listen.
  11. Ryan G

    Moderator Moderator

    Easily one of your best reviews I've read. Definitely need to spend more time with this album (and band).
  12. Great review! I adore this album
  13. momo32t


    Nice work with this review Craig. After getting this pre-order in the mail last week, it has been on constant rotation. This work is a nice logical progression from Stovall. "Drown" and "Whimper" are the two tracks that stick out to me.
  14. Bartek T.

    D'oh! Prestigious

    Really enjoyed my few listens of this album, and after the review I want to get back to i t immediately to delve into lyrics more, seems fitting.
    Chase Tremaine likes this.
  15. Colin Your Enthusiasm

    It's nobody's battle but your own. Prestigious

    Their debut or this album don't blow me away unfortunately. They are merely good to me. Will still give this new one more spins and hopefully it grows on me.
  16. "Dull" really does sound like Pinegrove, haha
  17. KyleK

    Let's get these people moving faster! Supporter

    They're my 3 most anticipated albums of the second half of the year, so it's reassuring that they'll live up to my high expectations.
  18. paperlung

    there's no place like my room Supporter

    I can't stop listening. definitely a slight change of sound, but dang does it work. kudos to the band