The May Divide - Personal

The May Divide
Personal EP

Brace yourself for some melodramatic art rock as The May Divide deliver their musical oddity, Personal. Let’s make an attempt to describe things and set the scene.

The record opens with ‘Radiate’, which fades in wavering synths over the course of very nearly a full minute. The song then pops into life with a sparse eighties pop sound. The vocal keeps things low initially, but in the chorus lands between Tony Hadley and Morrissey.

The song is full of drama. You don’t get an audio experience here, it really feels like you’ve been transported to an old club with heavy red curtains and a hazy atmosphere. ‘Hey Mikey, come listen to this band won’t ya?’

There’s a relay race between drums, piano, and bass before the song returns to a verse and the chorus pushes up the volume and adds chaotic percussion.

If ‘Raidate’ was an unusual song, the mostly instrumental ‘Hideaway’ takes us further into the world of The May Divide. A mix of percussive elements gives us wood, glass, and metal beneath a wash of spiritual synth. The piano and guitar add a meditative melody in a seriously grand intro.

The vocal arrives late as the song takes on form, the piano has a subtle ragtime tuning and it feels earthy. I’m not going to lie, the stylized melodic presentation is going to challenge some listeners – but this song was never intended to appeal to popular tastes. The vocal in ‘Soaked Through’ feels more assured and natural, but I feel that the idea with this record is to experiment with things, so I wouldn’t change anything in ‘Hideaway’.

The experience continues with ‘Rough It Up’, which I hesitate to label a more traditional pop arrangement as I use the term relatively. ‘Tu Me Manques’, returns the deeper vocal, which resonates well – perhaps the best performance from the singer on the record as it feels like Scott Walker collaborating with The Beatles on one of their stranger numbers.

If I had to boil this record down to its very essence, the percussion is definitely one of its defining features. The rest I would describe as a contemporary expression of jazz, with an improvised feel to the way the lead role is passed between musicians. ‘Soaked Through’ was my favourite song, but perhaps ‘Personal’ captures more of the band’s soul.

We could all listen to safer music, for sure. But there’s something exhilarating in listening to more experimental things.

Listen to The May Divide – ‘Radiate’.

Written by Beck on

Michael Beck is a long-time writer for [the-mag] and Phonotonal.
Michael Beck

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