David Bello, Molly Drag Subvert Indie on ‘Fear Mint Vol. 3′
For the past couple of years, Near Mint Records has been putting out a rad Halloween split series affectionately dubbed Fear Mint. They're following up last year's great edition of Anthony Jay Sanders and Cameron Boucher with The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die singer David Bello on one side, and up-and-coming indie musician Molly Drag on the other.
Bello's work is unlike what you'd normally get from a TWIABP song; "Late Night Three" strips things down to a bare piano and accompanying effects. It's pleasant and effective, a huge contrast to his follow-up, "I Have a Plan." The onset of the latter packs in unnerving sounds over a dancing guitar line, before a thick bass line conveys both menace and melancholy, Bello mourning, "I wish my friends would stop dying / it's the most useless wish." All of this leads to new waves of sound, making Bello's song something of a Current 93 contemporary in its strange, almost beautiful sonic inflections.
Molly Drag, a.k.a. Michael Hansford, also opens up his half with deceptively simple instrumentation: a moody acoustic guitar and his naturally atmospheric voice under the hum of strings and piano. There's an instrumental break in the middle, a moment of unrest where Hansford's voice contorts and twitches before all the instruments come back in full effect. The split closes with Molly Drag's "Twisted," a lo-fi gem of pristine indie pop. Bells ring over the guitars, making for an easygoing, perfectly crafted, wistful and thoughtful track.
Both artists mess with the DNA of indie to make their music shine, creating a four-track split that's much bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.