Matt Addison and company AKA Mythical Motors have been providing Chattanooga, TN, and the surrounding areas with loads of melodic post-punk and power pop for over a decade now. They’ve released two EPs this year already, and are back with another full length. Elevated Levels is a triumph of pop songwriting, soaked in four-track charm and hiss.
It’s always refreshing to hear music that is rough around the edges. Part of what makes bands like Guided by Voices or Sparklehorse great is that they don’t act like they have it all together. Things might fall apart at any moment. But, there is something brilliant about the spontaneity of the songwriting. They believe in capturing ideas exactly as they occur in the brain: that the initial excitement of a song is the best time to capture it. And, like Linkous or Pollard, Matt Addison thrives on rapid-fire songwriting.
Elevated Levels, like previous Mythical Motors records, is once again full of the catchiest melodies being written now. Songs like “One Seventh of a Shadow” or “Preordained Sunshine” showcase Addison’s penchant for writing desperate, immediate indie rock anthems. The overdriven guitars and the pounding drums create the perfect amount of mayhem. There’s an urgency in the writing, especially in songs like “Everflowing Soul Center” or “The Fleeting High” that is almost tangible. Addison is a master of creating intense moods surrounded by slacker pop melodies.
It’s not just power pop that Addison does well. The album’s softer moments shine as brightly as its driving numbers. “Stasis” could be a b-side from Plastic Ono Band. “Rare Winter Steel” almost sounds like the long lost child of Neil Young’s Harvest and Another Side of Bob Dylan. Moodier numbers like “Heavy In the Light” also display the range of Addison’s songwriting. With subtle snare rolls and a haunting keyboard melody, “Dr. Fall” is another contemplative number with images and characters buzzing around our head. Addison’s lyrics mimic the spontaneity of the music– he gives us just enough to hold onto before flying off to new worlds or the next freshly baked image. The songs never overstay their welcome, but the record continually feels fresh and exciting.
As we’re finishing out the year and beginning to think about what to put on year-end list, listen to Elevated Levels. You’ll find yourself humming the tunes into the new-year. Young songwriters should take a cue from Addison – write whenever you feel like it!