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Album Review

The second album in ten years from the Brooklyn-based Mahogany, Connectivity!, though it features a drastically different lineup than the original incarnation (only founding member Andrew Prinz remains), keeps that same lush, airy indie pop of The Dream of a Modern Day, but also expands and develops it. Post-modern lyrics about cities and abstract construction and theory swirl and repeat over the soft guitar arpeggios and smudged synthesizer chords while drums, both programmed and live, keep a steady beat. It's part indie pop, complete with the vaguely off-key keyboard squeaks, sweet harmonies, and male vocals that can sound remarkably similar to those of Belle & Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch, but it's part experimental rock, too, ignoring traditional form (verses and chorus, for example, or often even a hook) in exchange for warm sweeping landscapes that, while they may not lead us to anywhere exact, direct us to a set of ideas that make sense within the context of themselves, circling around and raising questions and melodic phrases. The opener, "Tesselation, Formerly Plateau One," practically shimmers as it works its way to completion, while "Mantissa" sounds almost like something Mia Doi Todd might sing, with female vocals over a delicate guitar and jungle-based beat. The whole song is just four lines repeated ("A floating point/Observed on transparent planes/The grass blades bend and hum/With morning sun") but it's so beautifully developed — starting simply but adding layers that come in as if in a round, blurring the vocals and then fading out together — that each repetition seems to take on new meaning with the new instrumentation until it all becomes complicated and tightly woven around itself, a delicate, but secure web. Connectivity! is not quite the album you want to sing along to (it would be nearly impossible to do so, in fact), but it's not just background, either; it's too practiced, the words are too carefully selected (even if their actual meaning as sentences is sometimes unclear), the phrases are too gently spaced and layered to take it so casually. It's light and clean, but doesn't weigh esoterically or presumptuously; an excellent combination of skill and intellectualism, it's the 21st century philosopher's pop music.


Formed: 1996 in Detroit, MI

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Dream pop band Mahogany was formed in December 1995 by Allysa Massais and Andrew Prinz, who shared a love for composers such as Debussy and bands such as Section 25. In February 1996, Larry Hofmann of Burnt Hair Records saw the duo play one of its first shows in Lansing, MI, and later released a split 12" with fellow Lansing band Auburn Lull. After Prinz's sister Marissa joined on keyboards, Mahogany released the Dual-Group EP and received airplay on the John Peel show in the U.K. Over the next two...
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