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As soon as the opening track and recent single “The Well” issues forth, it becomes obvious that Reuben Tyghe is as adept at making pop music every bit as sophisticated as the ornate alt-rock he made with Porn Erin. But if the former band relied on weaving intricate musical lines and punctuating beats around each other’s playing, Mami Wata goes the other way and it is space that is the magic ingredient here.
The result is rootsy and soulful alt-pop, it is both elegant and eloquent and has singles just oozing from its musical pores. The aforementioned “The Well” is as sweet, sassy, and sunny a song as you are going to find as the soundtrack to the summer but this is anything but a throwaway slice of pop as you will realize if you lean in and properly listen to the lyrics of this opening salvo.
“Those Eyes Can’t Lie to Me” is soul-searching and subdued, “Bundle of Love” wanders between the spacious and minimal and more layered and textured musical realms, and “Fragile Frame” is energetic and heartfelt. And then things wrap up on a tangent with the title track which feels like a series of musical sketches which wander from the sublime to the ridiculously beguiling.
Pop may have been in the doldrums of late, so much so that an album like Mami Wata might not even ping on the average pop picker’s radar. But pop it essentially is. Pop for the discerning. Poised pop at that. Pop with a purpose. Pop with a Ph.D. Pop in a style that once was and, with albums such as this coming into vogue, pop that will be again. The pop that you need in your life, now more than ever.
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