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Album Review

To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie's Mark McGee and Jehna Wilhelm made a name for themselves with The Patron, which used McGee's intricate programming and Wilhelm's fragile vocals to tell the love story between two merging corporations. As intriguing as that approach was, the duo wisely choose to not repeat it on their follow-up, Marlone. Freed from any conceptual restraints, they allow themselves more room to experiment with their sound. Paradoxically, this makes the album even more cohesive, as well as more confident, than what came before. These songs are much more expansive, giving To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie the biggest canvases on which to layer wide washes of drones with tiny foreground details. Of course, there are still a few ties to The Patron, like the perversely frosty "Summertime"; "I Hear You Coming, But Your Steps Are Too Loud," which suggests trip-hop as heard through an ambient fog; and the exquisite production and sound design heard throughout. However, McGee and Wilhelm spend most of Marlone taking chances that work just as well, if not better than, their familiar territory. Live drums dominate the album, most strikingly on "The Needle," the duo's version of a dark rock epic. "In People's Homes" is a just under two-minute burst of indie pop that is followed by "Turrtiopsis," a massive, lurching soundscape that stretches out for nearly ten minutes. Either song on its own would be a departure, but juxtaposing them is downright inspired. Marlone is also far more organic than the band's debut, trading the blatantly synthetic and industrial sounds that added to The Patron's poignancy for a wider range of sounds and emotions. To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie make a point of shaking off their mechanical confines with "You've Gone Too Far"'s misty drones, and Wilhelm's voice rises above an aloof coo on "I Will Hang My Cape in Your Closet," which is as strangely intimate as the title suggests. Subtler yet more dramatic than The Patron, Marlone takes Wilhelm and McGee's dark atmospheres in impressive directions.


Formed: Minneapolis, MN

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Mixing an equally lovely and unsettling amount of dreamy pop and industrial noise, To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie features guitarist/vocalist Jehna Wilhelm and electronics/sound manipulator Mark McGee. The Minneapolis, MN-via-Richmond, VA residents began making music together around 2003, working with a revolving cast of supporting musicians. They founded their own label, the Riley Bushman Recordings & Archives, to release their own music and collaborations with like-minded artists, including split...
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