What started out as a duo featuring Canadian art students Stefanie Blondal Johnson (vocals, guitar) and Jodi Dunlop (drums) has blossomed into a forceful quartet with the addition of Corey Hykawy (bass) and Dave Gagnon (lead guitar) on Mise en Scene’s second release ‘Still Life On Fire.’
During an extensive tour in support of their debut album, which saw Mise en Scene play at Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona, a show in downtown Paris to over 15,000 people, and SXSW earlier this year, front woman Blondal Johnson drew inspiration from the road. On those lonely long drives from show to show while staring at a computer keyboard or cell phone, the talented songwriter thought about finding one’s self in a world of social media. The perception of reality and fantasy became a common thread which sewed the 11 songs on ‘Still Life On Fire’ together.
Lyrically engaging, the songs come to life with a lush song structure of swirling shoegaze influence, the grittiness of garage rock, and a hint of muscular punk. The raw energy merges with the polished melodies and stimulating hooks, which come out to grab you when you least expect it.
‘Still Life On Fire’ opens with the Lou Reed-inspired bass line of “Intro (Nothing),” which flows into the first single “Closer.” The fuzz-fed track is refreshing as it picks up the pace and Blondal Johnson draws you in with her orgasmic repeated moans of “I’m closer…closer…closer.” The observant “Guts/Glory” is a surefire ear wig thanks to its lovely groove; The introspective “I’m OK” is haunting, yet pleasant, as Blondal Johnson sings “I’m OK” over and over and you don’t know if she is telling you she is ok, or if she is trying to assure herself she is ok. “Waster” adds a little dance punk to the mix, while the title track gives you a little Euro flavor, and “Young Leo” is a blistering rocker. Closing with the lover’s lament “Same Hearts” merging into “Outro (Everything),” ‘Still Life On Fire’ is a perfect summer album to soak up the sun to.