Mayve's Animals album cover

MAYVE’s Animals;
Indie-Pop-Dance at its Best

| published February 8, 2016 |

By R. Alan Clanton, Thursday Review editor

At Thursday Review, we’ve been a bit behind on our music reviews, especially the ones which give readers an opportunity to catch the latest in indie, alt, and indie pop—a category which we consider one of our specialties (second only to those long-form retrospectives the great milestones; the 40th anniversary, for example, of Bruce Springsteen’s classic Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ).

We like new music, we like alt sounds, and we love indie pop. Our recent discovery of MAYVE, a Long Island-based indie-pop-dance group, has rebooted our desire to share our thoughts about the state of the indie sound.

MAYVE’s most recent EP, Animals (released in early January) is something impossible to dislike. Indeed, it is instantly infectious and irresistible for its combination of insistent vocals, its punchy, snappy dance-rhythms, and its generous layers of guitars and synth instrumentation.

The percussion, synthesizers, and vocals, especially, evoke nearly everything an astute music lover would find likably familiar about the explosion of post-disco sounds of the 1980s and early 1990s, without wallowing in pure nostalgia—despite evocative lyrics intent on precisely that mission: a voyage of discovery and rediscovery. These five ethereal but rhythm-laden songs share a powerful thread in their DNA with bands like the Killers (in a recent interview, drummer Joe Rene mentions the Las Vegas-based band as one of MAYVE’s influences), U2 and Howard Jones (in their late-80s, early 90s incarnations), and the more recent recordings of Chvrches and Passion Pit.

MAYVE also draws on some of the most pleasing elements of what we like about the alt and indie sounds of the aught years: bits and pieces of Savage Garden found in “Higher” and “Talking to Myself,” echoes of Coldplay heard in both “Magic” and “Higher,” and wisps and whiffs of alt sounds of Walk the Moon, Atlas Genius and Capital Cities (three bands with a deep interest in 1980s nostalgia and musical revivalism). Several of the songs bear a striking but entirely pleasing resemblance to the debut CD from St. Lucia (aka: Jean-Philip Grobler), When the Night. That is meant as compliment: MAYVE’s sound is simultaneously rich and uplifting, as well as introspective without being angry or regretful. In fact, a single word which could fairly sum up the sound: joyous.

MAYVE is made up of Nick Micheline on vocals, guitars, and keyboard; Mike Gusman on guitar and backing vocals; Kyle Murphy on guitar and backing vocals; Matt Emma on bass; Joseph Rene on drums. The band’s guitars form a full, rich texture which projects the sort of wonderfully seamless sound one should reasonably expect from the best of indie-dance-pop.

The fact that the band hails from Long Island seems counter-intuitive to me, for their indie sound seems steeped in non-regional diction; when I think of the alt sounds which emerge from NYC and its environs, I think of a long, robust lineage that stretches from Springsteen to The Strokes (all good stuff). But MAYVE’s harmonies and richness of sound seem to transcend all that, and create a pleasing merger of dance synth and pulse-prodding guitars.

Three of the songs in particular deserve special attention to the indie music lover: “Hearts on Fire,” “Higher,” and “West Coast.” But taken together as a whole, all five songs are top shelf; there are no duds on this EP, an important tool to distinguish (in my humble view) the difference between a band able to craft one solid radio winner and three or four or five fair-to-middling tunes. In this sense, MAYVE has hit a home run with Animals, an EP that most listeners will find hard to put away, at home or office, in the car, or in their ears.

MAYVE is “indie” in the true sense, not in the broad-stroke, sometimes misused nomenclature: they write, record, and distribute their music (for now) outside of the purview of record labels or dudes in suits. That’s a good thing, certainly, but keep a close eye (and ear) on this band, for they are very likely to become tomorrow’s Big Deal in alt and indie sound.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Energetic 80s Revivalism; Three Album Reviews; Maggie Nichols; Thursday Review; December 5, 2013.

Broken Bells; After the Disco; Maggie Nichols; Thursday Review; March 18, 2014.

St. Lucia, When the Night; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; November 18, 2013.