Father You See Queen – 47Posted by Sarah Anne Lloyd
Fans of To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie rejoice! Mark McGee has returned with a new partner-in-crime. Originally planning to replace Jenna Wilhelm after she moved to Seattle, the two ended up giving their new project a life, and a name, of its own: Father You See Queen.<
McGee and Nicole “Mona” Tollefson really are a match made in musical heaven: Tollefson’s folk background leads to constrained, crisp, structured vocals, a perfect foil for McGee’s more experimental, dingy sound. They cut through and build upon one another. FYSQ is haunting and innovative, but with deeply affecting, classic rhythms like mechanical heartbeats. At the same time, the melodies are far from standard, retaining enough ghostly weirdness for them to mesh with the cacophony that sometimes rises around them. Tollefson’s voice sounds well-suited to a cathedral; McGee’s work sounds like a robot’s diary. As a bonus, FYSQ seems fully immersed in the tactile. Between packaging 47 like a precious object and a limited run of music boxes(filled with ashes and hair!), the depth of their music is fitting. The production doesn’t just capture a room sound; it’s more like a collection of rooms, plus the wiring in the wall.
Stepping back, 47 is a pop album. “Teratoma” resembles a heartbeat: building momentum with the same backbeat and an echoing chant, expanding from and diminishing back into the same theme, eventually peaking in a wave of high-pitched noises as Mona’s vocals loop into a round. The fuzzed-out, dirty beat of “Ocean” grinds against you for an absolutely killer album-opener, while “We Give and Give and Give and You Take and Take and Take” is an angelic, easygoing number that would nestle itself against delicate singer-songwriters if it weren’t for its looped structure and growing collection of sounds underneath. Despite the mostly-ambient “Lungs” sounding like suffocating on an off-course shuttle drifting into deep space, the two carry each other into crossover appeal, and ultimately more effective songs. “Don’t Be Mad at Me” takes a second to pick back up from “Lungs,” but once the vocals come in they again click perfectly into a sweet, melancholy song, once more looping Mona’s vocals into a soaring round
Both musicians have a style that is stripped-down, concentrated and meditative, and together they are perfectly balanced. Neither is afraid of taking their time, and they’re both better for it: Mona’s voice has enough time to fully sink in, and Mark has room to play. Not to say that these are two separate, competing forces. With the addition of Mona, as opposed to To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie, the beats are not just poppier; they’re dirtier–even grimier. He finds a new shape for his music here, somewhere between Bourgeoisie and his other active project, Votel — noise that still fits into pop structures despite its distorted pops, loops and feedback.
“Edmund,” the album’s close, is unexpected: a solemn, dirge-inspired ballad. It still has those signature noise tics, but with its more organic-sounding instruments and soft guitar chords, it’s a stark departure from the rest of the album. And that’s the one thing missing here: coherency, of being an entire, finished piece. Regardless, “Edmund” still fits into the stark, ethereal sound, and 47 does serve what was probably its intended purpose: a sampler of what FYSQ has in store for the future, and a showcase of what they’re capable of, which from the looks of this is pretty much anything.