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The Music Makes Me Sick

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Album Review

It's a Musical is a duo made up of Ella Blixt (who also records enchanting pop songs under the name Bobby Baby) and Robert Kretzschmar with Ella on vocals and various keyboards, and Robert on vocals and drums. With help from various bass players, that's all there is to the group's sound on their debut album The Music Makes Me Sick. No guitars at all. You don't miss them though thanks to the layered keyboards and production touches like the occasional trumpet fanfare and the warm blanket of reverb that wraps around everything. Also thanks to the voices of the duo; Kretzschmar's boyish tones mesh perfectly with Blixt's angelically autumnal singing style. When they sing separately, each one sounds nice, when they sing together, it's just short of magical. All put together, The Music Makes Me Sick is child-like and innocent but also packed with tenderness and real emotions. It's also quite similar to what Mates of State did on their first few records. Both bands write songs with bubbling melodies and singalong choruses, both Kori Gardner and Blixt fill up the empty spaces with their keyboard prowess, and the drumming is powerful and never showy. Also like the Mates (and any other band worth their salt), the duo mix up moods and tempos, ranging from completely downcast and slow ballads to almost giddy pop tunes from song to song (and even within the same song, as on "Dudu"). "The Music Makes Me Sick" is the album's high point, mixing a memorable piano line with Blixt and Kretzschmar delivering uncharacteristically cranky lyrics bemoaning their inability to enjoy music anymore (they should listen to their own album as a remedy) in their sweetly deadpan style. It's a perfect anthem for the post-music age we seem to be heading towards. A bunch of songs come in a close second; the insistent and hooky "You Make Me Real" which features the oddly perfect couplet ""You make me real/let's share a meal" and some heavenly harmonies, the bouncing "Pain Song" which kicks off the album with a jolt of energy or "Take Off Your T-Shirt" which ends it with an achingly beautiful love song. And the rest are perfectly fine examples of the kind of cozy indie pop that makes you feel safe and warm. The only real weak spot on the record is that Blixt's lyrics tend toward the introspective, sometimes too much so. "What Do I Know?" comes perilously close to navel gazing and a few others sound coffee shop friendly, but usually she just sounds charmingly melancholy. This minor hitch isn't enough to derail the band or this record; it works from beginning to end, and the wonderful songwriting and truly lovely vocals cast a spell of quiet beauty that's hard to shake off when the album ends. You'd have to look hard to find a better indie pop album than The Music Makes Me Sick in 2008.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

It's a Musical's buoyant, brainy indie pop tunes, similar to other projects by co-founder Ella Blixt (Bobby Baby, Bobby & Blumm), nod to acts like Hello Seahorse!, Mates of State, and Architecture in Helsinki. Blixt met Robert Kretzschmar (also of Lady Boy), who would become the other half of It's a Musical, in 2006 while she was living in Malmö, Sweden, and working on her recordings as Bobby Baby. The two started working on It's a Musical's debut album in 2008, after Blixt moved to Berlin, Germany....
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The Music Makes Me Sick, It's a Musical
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