Reviewed by Matthew Cordle
Marika Gauthier's bandcamp page states, "Marika is what bright, new solo artists from Montreal should sound like. With a whole mess of familiarity and just a tinge of strange. . ." and this second sentence really sums up Marika's self-titled EP, released in May 2012. Although quite stylistically eclectic, Marika's core style would be classed as singer/songwriter and, whilst in one sense the songs are not unusual, they are somewhat unpredictable in arrangement with some interesting quirky production elements that lift the songs above the normal. Production and lyrics writing has been taken care of by David "Tokyo" Speirs and he has created an excellent sound that manages to be musically interesting without distracting from Marika's vocal - eg, alternate-note panning of backing vocals and use of what sound like old 8-bit computer game sounds. Marika has an attractive voice that sounds a little like Tina Arena on "Oh My Soul" but can also be powerful, as on "The Thief". Her intonation, expressiveness and backing vocal harmonies are spot on. Some of the lyrics are a little obtuse, as on "Vindicated", but maybe it's just I'm not clever enough to follow them! However, there are also some thought-provoking lyrics, one of my favourites being in "Daddy Atlas", a song to Marika's dad who has gone through some very difficult times carrying the world for his family; "Even Jesus dropped his cross after all that he had been through/I may count it all as loss but I still don't want to lose you/You're my daddy and that's all you need to be for me to love you." "H.O.M.E" (which stands for "hands on my ears") contains the thought-provoking picture of shouting out for Jesus to sing love songs in our ears. . .but standing there with our hands on our ears. The closing track, "The Thief", looks forward to Jesus' return and depicts the somewhat comical image of the final trumpet sounding and mankind turning to him and asking him to turn it down! Towards the end the song peaks with "When he comes, and I hope he's coming soon/The world's already wasted, I'll rise above the ruin" with the last subdominant chord on "rise" and the lone vocal "above the ruin" tailing off into silence, a poignant ending. Rather a shame then that after around 12 seconds of silence there's a short reprise that spoils the effect. In summary though, an excellent debut.
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