Man oh man, this is good mayonnaise
Alt-rock outfit Deer Tick strut into 2019 with Mayonnaise, thirteen easily digestible tracks that run together comfortably while introducing each other to a slightly different style as they go. Deer Tick can easily play whatever genre they decide without being too strict about staying in any given genre’s “box” while doing so. Few tracks on Mayonnaise sound alike, at times raising the question if the level of variety detracts from how effective the album could potentially be. Perhaps it does, but the fact remains that Deer Tick is no one-trick pony.
Like many of the albums that slide across this reviewer’s to-review list, Mayonnaise has several points (some entire songs) with difficult-to-decipher lyrics. Occasionally, it seems like a matter of mixing, which is debatable whether or not that is intentional or accidental, and whether or not that makes the low-vocal mixing a better trait or not. Luckily, the effort put into listening to covered-up singing pays off, as most of the lyrics on this album could swiftly squash the substanceless hogwash that is all too common in much of today’s pop music.
“Limp Right Back,” track two, is woodsy country music, featuring a slew of notable lyrics, such as “Pain / Blame/ Means to satisfy” and “I can’t count the ways we’ve become untethered.” Who even uses “untethered” in their daily life? And why isn’t it used more often? ‘Tis an elegant way to indicate the growing distance between two partners. Between choruses, an unexpected saxophone solo steps in, and, while both melodically and contextually atypical, it contributes positively.
The bowtie of the chorus in “Old Lady” is sweet, like, give your family a great big hug sweet. After listing worries and flaws, he sings that he wishes to “Be a man for my old lady.” While “boys will be boys” is no longer a respected phrase, there is an alluring quality, a stoic charisma to being “a man.” Admirable vulnerability. “Strange, Awful Feeling” is another lyrical heavyweight. “I lost you while staring at a wall’–what a way to end things. The other standout is “Changing yourself / Not for you / But for who you were.” It’s soaked in the past, and it’s not just the rosy lenses that nostalgia usually gets viewed with.
At times, Mayonnaise has a “kicking open a truck door” type of swagger (“Bluesboy”), restrained punk spirit in “White City” and even beach-scented relaxation as the album closes out. However, the most special moment is not a stylistic jaunt or a lyrical gem, but an instrumental piece. In fact, it is the only instrumental here, one that seems like it could have vocals within its first minute, but then the song ends just over a minute later, without even an “ooh” or an “ah.” It’s smoky, uncertain and cookie-cutter perfect for a rainy day. The particular piano sound is reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed,” yet it remains individual. If only it were longer.
While stylistically varied and barred from its true potential by some unintelligible lines, Mayonnaise is a solid album that is worth several listens, so go get started now! Kick open that truck door!