Having wisely decided to consign My Little Pony (the band's previous name) to room 101 following the departure of guitarist Simen Herning, the re-invented quartet that represent Making Marks have released their 'debut' album 'A Thousand Half-Truths'. The Norwegian foursome, named after MLP's second album, of Ola, Marie, Nina and Jorgen make light and breezy pop songs full of delightful melodies and rich harmonies. The close male/female vocal harmonies are beautifully balanced throughout the album as tales of long distance love, longing and the curiosities of life are imparted often with a wry twist or slightly cynical take. Ola says, "I think we've finally found a way to marry our folky twang with our more upbeat poppiness. You'll find the folk bits in our vocals and some of the guitar parts, while the rest of the soundscape is very pop oriented."
The jangly guitar pop played out through the unreciprocated intimacy of 'Bruises', and then 'Barcodes', sets the album off to a great start as we are transported through Oslo in search, or in trepidation, of love. The latter's keyboard flourish nicely lifts the song towards the end before 'Uten En Trad', the only vocal on the album sung in the band's native Norwegian. 'Forgive And Forget' follows, picking up the beat and providing a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. The track is infused with a distinctive Rembrandts' 'Friends' theme and even borrows the guitar riff as it bounces along.
The absurdities of spin classes are captured brilliantly on 'Like Spinning', where the pace slows to very effectively showcase the well-paired vocal harmonisation, akin here to New Yorkers Girlyman. 'Lemon Sheets' lightens the mood with a lovely light love song tinged with regret and apology, but with a very pleasant air and nicely phrased lyrical quality: "Come and see me, I'm not so far away, just a bus and a train and a plane and another train from Harringay."
The album's title track 'A Thousand Half-Truths' sees the band in their most down-beat guise. The slower and more sombre song, with a faint country lilt, is a rather sad tale, complete with advice on love and life. "You're free in this meritocracy of opportunity", "It's all up to you" and "If you think you can dance there's a whole world waiting to tell you that you can't", Making Marks tell us as a very tasty bass line and well executed guitar solo very aptly counter the vocal duets.
'Falling In Love Again' and 'Ticket Machine' sees a return to the band's more up-beat disposition as they question or cast doubt on love whilst satisfying their particular inclination for littering the prose with numerous modes of transportation as well as a variety of song title references. To close out the 10 tracks, 'Flying High Forever' gently eases us through an atmosphere of contemplation and, rather aptly, about as far from anything you could associate with day-glow plastic horses.
'A Thousand Half-Truths' is an album by a band clearly growing up, growing in confidence and growing better with age. There are plenty of well-crafted pop songs all held together with great hooks and harmonies as well as an enjoyable bitter-sweet propensity towards expressing their social commentary. Norwegians would, so why wouldn't you? (And I managed not to liken them to Belle & Sebastian once!)
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