Life, and Another, a storytelling journey beyond genre
Onto her sixth album since her start in 2011, Mega Bog’s last release was in 2019 with Dolphine, an album inspired by a myth that humans were once sea creatures, and some choose to remain as dolphins. Her distinct stories and vivid imagination extends beyond this one project and often have others relating her musical ambitions to similar artists like Yoko Ono or Animal Collective. This distinct style bleeds all over the 14 songs of her new release, Life, and Another, with Mega Bog continuing her mission of creating a complex something of distinction, whether the versatility is found in the lyrics or the instrumentals, it’s always new.
With the first track, “Flower,” bossa nova influences are evident from the get-go across sounds in the nylon-string guitar, satisfyingly clean piano and understated drums. Complete with rapid-fire lyrics relayed in a sort of sing-talking form, the overall song has a very satisfying coffee shop sound, like something from Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Love album. “Believe in my love,” Birgy sings, and it feels like something’s blooming.
In “Station to Station,” there is more of an emphasis on the electronic influences in these crunch-synth sounds. Add on top of that some low-toned Grimes-esque vocals and ‘90s-era “Kiss from a Rose” synth and the whole song feels very much universal underground pop. At the beginning of “Crumb Back,” the more modern feeling guitar riffs make listeners expect something more akin to lazy skater pop but enter the hit of the drum and a solo sax, and suddenly it’s a mix of jazz, country-eqsue slide guitar and surf-pop. The result is something beachy and grand like a genie is entrancing people on the beach of Los Angeles.
The title track “Life, and Another” is an eccentric story about a dream, and it really is a journey from its high piano chords to its elusive chimes. “Maybe You Died” is a reflexive and ethereal track with low ‘80s synth tones and saxophone about exploring potential realities.
The instrumental track “Darmok” is a low-register ocean-esque experience like the best part of some film soundtrack or a transition between worlds, with low guitar, shy piano and a vibrant synth. The other short instrumental interludes, “Adorable” and “Bull of Heaven” are sister tracks, with “Adorable” having a more live, sweet, psychedelic-rock edge and “Bull of Heaven” with a more hard rock lens on the music.
“Obsidian Lizard” has a similar sound to the electronic game worlds of Anamanaguchi, while “Before a Black Tea” is especially Yoko Ono-centric. A chill live-guitar-centered piece, “Ameleon” warbles around the room in an ethereal pop tone, super reminiscent of songs from Wolf Alice. With Mega Bog taunting the listener throughout, telling a dream-like story amidst the new instruments, playing slow, like the song played after the last call. And just like that, the intoxicating river journey of this album is over.
With Life, and Another, the newness may be found in the bold mixtures of elements of ska, modern pop and jazz. Whatever it is that Mega Bog decides to do, she gets it done. Her ability to tap into different sounds across the board is something rare and admirable, and she certainly earns her spot as an established experimental artist.