by Dani Walpole
On their sophomore album South Bay, The Mops deliver from beginning to end. The album, about “water, hearts, and heartache,” is loosely based around a summer of the shores of Lake Ontario, but it ranges from tunes about the comfort of love, to feelings of sorrow and painful memories. Though The Mops are a duo consisting of multi-instrumentalists Charlotte Hill and Greg Hunter, the two are accompanied by an army of other musicians on the majority of their tracks, and the instruments–which range from bassoon to violin–add a whole new texture of sound to their music.
South Bay kicks off with a sweet song about falling in love, with a unique and mesmerizing bass line. Vocalist Charlotte Hill’s voice is youthful yet powerful on this first track, “Charlie’s House”, and accompanied by her strong lyricism and an instrumental climax towards the end of the song, the listeners are invited into the unique world of South Bay.
In terms of instrumentation, the most notable moments on the album include the soaring violin on “Untitled 2,” the layered strings and horns on Track Six “Beach Memories,” the exciting drum fill that beckons the beginning of Track Seven “Thy Memory”, and the fantastic gang vocals at the end of “Comfort.”
With the massive undertaking of involving so many instruments comes some minor, but charming stumbles on the album (namely a minor rhythmic cacophony on track 2,) but rather than subtract from the music, this adds a handmade charm, and points to the fact that the album was made by friends, for friends.
The Mops’ lyrics are sometimes straightforward and vulnerable: “Seems like everywhere I go/ I can’t stop feeling alone,” or “I hate you for thinking that you ever knew me/ I love you for thinking that you ever knew me.” While this simplicity is effective, the two songwriters also have a talent for being extremely poetic and transcendent with their writing. In “Beach Memories,” sung by Hunter, a completely different universe is painted, but the feelings of our world are still attached. With with an operatic flair and the occasional falsetto, they sing “I put my mind in reverse, hoping the earth would turn back with me/ I could watch the sunset in the east/ O the root of my sorrow could cease”
Hill’s lyricism is nature-oriented and beautiful, asking tender questions like “how do I fill your empty home?/ with colors and vases my mother showed me.” She paints the experience of summer love in a unique and visceral way: “Summer sun was left on your brow/ I’ll be peeling off you six months from now.” Her lyrics are warm, succinct, and introspective.
South Bay is something special, and I’ve had it on repeat in my car for weeks now. It is fun, comforting, and overflowing with goodness. If you’re looking for an album with a soul and a unique sound, The Mops have something for you. You can stream and download both of their albums at https://themopssongs.bandcamp.com/.
Dani Walpole is a senior at New Paltz, and the Public Affairs and Promotions Director for WFNP. She is the Social Media Manager for The Teller Magazine and a contributor to The New Paltz Oracle. She also writes for Reader’s Digest.