Review: Ricky Mirage - "Manic Romantic"

ricky mirage - manic romantic
(2016 Self-Released)

Flying in the face of power-pop deconstructionists like Real Estate and, more recently, Wild Nothing, Chicago's Ricky Mirage opts for historical accuracy rather than trans-generational integration in his approach to the paisley-patterned overcast atmosphere of Todd Rundgren's early works. Brusque riffs of bluesy guitar interrupt the honeyglazed breakfast cereal hooks of "When You're Free", dissonant lead squalls and vaseline globs of AM radio organ coat "Brittle Trees" and the breezy "All I Need" is spurred to action by an unshakably funky rhythm section. Manic Romantic is Ducktails with extra oomph, Of Montreal sans its thesaurus-powered pretension - instead it seems thoroughly uninterested in pigeonholes or genre conventions, nearly perfectly replicating the velvet-lined tunecraft of the early seventies while sneakily smuggling more contemporary influence behind his veil of antiquity: opener "The Joy Of Cut Flowers" injects some subtle chillwave into its psychedelic orchestration as its 808s and glassy synth pads join the fray. "Have You Thought About Me Lately?" even opens with a brief snippet of AnCo-tinged electronica.

What makes Manic Romantic so satisfying, though, isn't just its retro aesthetic, but its crisp production and attention to detail. The vocal harmonies are nearly as warm as those of The Beach Boys' Smile-era and the compositions are intensely layered and complex, packed with hooks, addictive melodies and swatches of groovy, tie-dyed ambience. Though it doesn't break much new ground, Ricky Mirage's new album is a timbrally diverse feast for the ears and refreshingly sincere throwback to jangle-pop and soft rock alike.