Make Do and Mend: Part and Parcel

make do and mend, part and parcelMake Do and Mend: Part and Parcel
Make Do and Mend’s latest EP, Part and Parcel is surprising in a lot of ways, and seemingly ambitious too. If you’re not familiar with the band let me explain their sound.
In the late nineties after the glut of bands cashing in on the alternative genre imploded, in that slice of time before the Limp Bizkit’s and Linkin Park’s came to rule the airwaves with their rap-rock or rage-rock (or whatever you want to call it when everyone started angrily screaming) amalgamations there was a veritable vacuum within the established music industry that allowed a lot of bands too radical for radio, yet to too sophisticated for local scenes to surface on something of a national agenda. During this time you could see new acts like AFI, the Dwarves, Death Cab for Cutie, or Jimmy Eat World at your nearby University for something like eight dollars. It was a really interesting time. At that point, Weezer was widely considered emo, though no one I know would call them such now.
To my understanding in those days emo was almost a by-product of punk though not tripped up over politics or radicalism to any degree. It was heavy, definitely not metal, but with an edge that set it apart from what everyone was going on about with indie groups. The music was hopeless but full of conviction, it was frustrated but eloquent and at times yes, there was screaming.
Fast forward however many years and emo becomes everything you think of as it now. Simply put, emo became a fashion. I have wondered over the last decade of live shows every time I see a modern emo kid what the genre could have been if the music hadn’t been hi-jacked by anthem-fueled, androgynous highschool boys.
The answer is definitely Make Do and Mend…or at least it used to be. Normally, as far as their discography is concerned, they play head nodding organic rock that isn’t concerned at all with anger or violence as is de rigueur in current rock circles. They retain credibility due in large part to the honesty and integrity with which they treat their sound. I’m sure if they wanted to, they could easily adrenalyze their sound, sing incoherently and scream at every chorus and work that circuit as it’s been established. But they don’t, because they don’t need to. Their music sells itself while standing clearly apart from contemporaries that have pursued the more common underground route. To me, it’s as if Make Do and Mend were placed in a time machine circa 1996, saved for the last decade and a half, then allowed to go about their business within the digital format.
Romanticism aside, what is most striking about Part and Parcel, is the calculated deconstruction of the group’s established sound. This is the ambition I mentioned earlier. I can’t for the life of me figure out what the intention is in stripping the sound to an almost purely acoustic angle, but it’s compelling and the choice of staging this new direction in an EP as opposed to a longer work is also intriguing. It feels like Part and Parcel began as a promising experiment in the lab that failed to execute under real world conditions. If you’re not familiar with their first two albums try this: Youtube “Transparent Seas” off of the full length and traditional sound of End Measured Mile and compare it against the MP3 ‘Transparent Seas,’ as appears on Part and Parcel.
Make Do and Mend isn’t yet a commercially successful act, and at the expense of exposure to a larger audience Part and Parcel doesn’t serve as much of an introduction. I much prefer the rocking Make Do and Mend to the reflective Make Do and Mend. The heavy use of acoustics could confuse one into thinking them as just another bar band. Also, without the speed and fury provided by an electric guitar driven rhythm, the lyrics and delivery feel maudlin and a touch self-satisfying.
Rating: 6.1/10.
MP3: Make Do and Mend “Transparent Seas”
Buy: iTunes