MIEARS, Photo: Arturo Olmos/Big Picture Media
It’s almost unheard of for a solo artist who has been tied to a sound, to steer from what they’ve become known for, and still keep their core intact. I can literally think of two or maybe three artists who’ve done it, and that’s a small number no matter how you look at it. Houston’s MIEARS is one I can safely add to that list however. On her debut album, she keeps things close to the chest and stays within the core of electronic music while offering up what feels like a more personal and deeper sound than that of her synth pop past. In fact the music alone on Who Will Save You? steps into the realm of early electronica, echoing the work of landmark groups like Yaz, The Normal, and Kraftwerk without ever giving you the idea that it was a lifted, but rather an homage to the genre. In six songs the producer, singer, and songwriter does more on her own than groups with multiple members while taking you on an emotional joyride you can groove to.
The opening notes of “Directional” should immediately paint a soundscape that MIEARS has carved her own sound out of the work she did with BLSHS. Coupled with the haunting and immense sound of her signature vocals, there are synths employed here that give a rebirth to the early days of synthesizers without feeling dated. The slow boil of the track sounds like a heartfelt offering to the listener, while multiple vocal tracks help steer the song to a new place. The first standout of the album comes on the second track, “Reaching,” where MIEARS use of early synthesized sounds comes in like a rush to the head. The beats, the electro-harmonized sounds, and the multiple stabs of instrumentation that dance on and off of the song are only emblazoned by MIEARS use of multiple vocal methods. An almost chopped and screwed vocal, harmonized backing vocals, and her own piercing voice add a depth you don’t typically hear from electronica today. In fact, the song feels like something that Yaz could have released the eighties though it never feels like a direct copy of what they did together either. Miears is truly in her element here, and offers up a strong example of how to emulate rather than to copy while she carves her own path in the process. The darkness that unfolds from within is so ever present that it’s only overshadowed by how catchy the music is.
This continues on the second standout track with “Who Will Save You?” MIEARS gives the listener something they can get behind in the earnest and sincere feel of the lyrics and the masterful implementation of the electronics. The producer really shines here as she orchestrates a sound that’s diverse without being complicated and lush without ever sounding cluttered. The bridge alone is beautiful enough to be its own stand alone song, and the soft keys mixed with MIEARS haunting vocals that dance in the background present a ghostly and beautiful sound that anyone can fall for. Two tracks later, MIEARS again unleashes another stand alone song that creates a depth that shadows what many in electronica are doing today. With “He Never Loved Me,” the producer in MIEARS steps up her game by presenting what sounds like a deeply personal song that includes some of the best instrumentation on the album. Multiple beats fill the song while various electronic stabs create an almost visceral experience, creating a beat cluster that’s on a whole other level from most of what you’re hearing in the genre today. Her utilization of her voice as a tool by multiple vocals here is mesmerizing as she pulls you in like a siren, while never making you feel like your ship will crash into any rocks.
MIEARS finishes the album with the closest to a gospel sound of the six tracks with “Cycle.” The torch song vibe coupled with the slow jam aspects of the song’s structure hold your attention while the dark vocals offer up an almost healing sentiment. Where her soft and floating pitch was used in a pop element before with the work she did with BLSHS, this track proves that MIEARS is truly in her element on this record, and the sound she creates is one you only want to hear more of. These six songs have more weight than what most releases in the genre have combined. By going deep and producing the tracks by herself, MIEARS along with mixing from John Griffin really give you a release you can dive into while finding subtle beauty in the songs every time you place them on repeat. Her redefining of what the genre can be is something you have to hear for yourself to truly appreciate, though you’ll be glad you did after just one listen.
You can find Who Will Save You? on all digital platforms, or you can grab your own physical copy on at the album release party on March 3 at White Oak Music Hall upstairs. The all ages show with doors at 8 pm will have opening performances from Pearl Crush and TEE VEE, and it’s 100% FREE for 21 & up and $5 for under 21.
MIEARS Redefines Herself On Debut This was reposted for my personal reading use