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HomeCultureAlbum Overview: Nicole Dollanganger, 'Married in Mount Ethereal'

Album Overview: Nicole Dollanganger, ‘Married in Mount Ethereal’


“All it’s important to carry is your love of all the things.” What a wierd line for an advert jingle. The way in which Nicole Dollanganger wraps her voice round it on the title monitor of her new album, you’d suppose it was made up; simply a type of vivid, unnerving particulars she carves into her darkish storytelling. However the tune, taken from a industrial for a 895-room resort that was as soon as a preferred honeymoon hideaway, has etched itself into the minds of many a technology. In a 2017 essay, the journalist Ada Calhoun remembers listening to it as a baby: “Once I ought to have spent that point absorbed by Benson or Scooby-Doo, I labored to decode the lyrics to the Mount Ethereal Lodge track. By ‘love of all the things,’ did they imply you would need to carry your love of volleyball and horseback using and billiards? That appeared like loads. Or did you simply have to carry your husband, who was your “love of all the things”—that means that, of all of the issues, he was the one you liked above all?”

The Mount Ethereal Lodge, like lots of the love songs Dollanganger has written since she first began importing her lo-fi bed room folks music on-line, had a tragic finish. A couple of years after it was demolished in 2001, the Mount Ethereal On line casino Resort was constructed as a replacement when on line casino playing turned authorized in Pennsylvania. Within the lead-up to her final album, 2018’s Coronary heart Formed Mattress, the Southern gothic singer-songwriter visited the Poconos and was struck by how “all the things is love-based, however it’s damaged down and destroyed”; the deserted motel as a metaphor for doomed love was one thing she’d already soaked in. Regardless of the unusually lengthy wait between albums, Married in Mount Ethereal appears to choose up the place that file left off, as if the paradox has come again to hang-out her. However the shift in framing is straight away obvious: whereas the protagonist of Coronary heart Formed Mattress desires of wedding ceremony nights spent at seedy motels, the brand new album begins by reckoning with the previous, treating reminiscences like ghosts you’ll be able to’t assist however maintain onto. We’re informed the wedding occurred, “someday within the late 60s”; it’s the cloud hovering above it, the thriller left in its wake, that slowly creeps into view.

In Dollanganger’s music, love and eroticism have all the time been inextricable from violence and ache. They get tied up in bleak, grotesque, and sometimes ambiguous methods, however Dollanganger is cautious to not veer into exploitation. Married in Mount Ethereal goes one step additional, avoiding specific descriptions in favour of obscure but searing lyrics that amplify each the ability and horror that permeates them. Although her recollection is hazy on the opening monitor, she notes that “there was one thing very unusual within the air” within the lover’s suite; the sense of foreboding grows on ‘Gold Satin Dreamer’ simply by mentioning the odor of uncooked steak. On the identical time, Dollanganger cuts by way of the murkiness of remembering with a few of her sharpest, most nuanced poetry up to now: “All of these desires not noted within the solar/ They run like syrup and clot like blood/ Disfigured past recognition,” she sings towards the singe and shimmer of guitar strings.

By treading comparable floor as its predecessor, Married in Mount Ethereal highlights Dollanganger’s capability to remodel the acquainted into the uncanny, and her refined strategy is mirrored the fragile subtlety of the manufacturing. Working with longtime collaborator Matt Tomasi, she fashions hauntingly ethereal, gloomy sounds that do greater than make house for her songwriting. Although it masquerades because the sunniest monitor on the album, ‘Runnin’ Free’ is a suffocating portrait of loneliness somewhat than escape, which is glimpsed solely by the sound – not even the sight – of bikes driving off into the evening, then increasing into music, drama. Weeping guitar accompanies her as she wonders what to make of all of the tears she’s cried over her lover on ‘Dangerous Man’; cross it with the road about how “all my tears and rage might load a revolver” on ‘Nymphs Discovering the Head of Orpheus’, and you’ll most likely work out the place he ended up.

No matter crime transpired isn’t central to the story of Married in Mount Ethereal; Dollanganger as an alternative focuses on the abusive dynamic that introduced the connection to a boiling level – and even then, it’s extra in regards to the lengthy, tortuous strategy of letting go. “Isn’t it unusual the way you and I/ Spend one of the best a part of our time/ Simply saying goodbye,” she sang on ‘Lacrymaria Olor’, probably referencing the 1951 movie A Place within the Solar. And if following the dream was all the time a false promise, if there’s now not room for it, perhaps it’s there, within the motion pictures, that she will be able to lastly bury him. The album’s penultimate monitor finds our protagonist in her lover’s wake, feeling sorry for all “the gorgeous girls there in your demise/ Crying out they swear they’ll love you till their very personal final dying breath.” With a smile on her face, she continues: “There’s a spot within the grass ready for you at Whispering Glades/ And Hollywood fits you, darling, I feel you must keep.” There, together with her love of all the things.

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