It’s A Musical | The Music Makes Me Sick
Most Likely To: prove that synth-pop can be both theatrical and good.
Robert Kretzschmar and Ella Blixt, who comprise the duo It’s a Musical (and, yeah, they’re German), run the stylistic gamut on their debut long player The Music Makes Me Sick. If the music makes me sick, then so be it; I don’t want to be well! The record conjures up the joys of musical theater–with all of the drama and even a bit of the cheesiness. While certain influences, like the Mates of State-style mix of keys and boy/girl vox might be expected to crop up (as on the title track), others like the Sufjan Stevens-style trumpet (“Bad Day”) or the Stereolab-style explorations (“Ball of Joy,” “You Make Me Smile”) are surprising, but never out of place.
There are no guitars here, which makes the sheer variety of sounds that Kretzschmar and Blixt squeeze out of the keyboards that much more impressive. The title track ebbs and flows, taking the listener through a range of emotion. “What Do I Know” functions like an arty soliloquy where one can imagine Blixt on stage alone, spot lit, asking: “Who am I? / What do I love to do? / What are my special talents and skills?” while a xylophone tings along in the custody of a buzzy keyboard line. Next, it’s Kretzschmar’s turn on “Lazy,” and while his musings are more pedestrian (“You weigh twice as much as me / but I eat three times more than you”) it doesn’t really matter what he says, it’s more about the way he couches his phrases in rhythm just before the hummable trumpet line kicks in.
Kretzschmar and Blixt think about presentation as much as music. They sport nearly identical haircuts and frequently appear dressed in brightly colored tees and jeans, making them look like Alsatian Easter eggs. But like any good theatrical production, the costumes compliment rather than overwhelm the performances.
Listen to “Bad Day” from It’s A Musical: