Mt. Sims | Happily Ever After
Most Likely To: definitively put the final nail in the coffin of the electro-whatever era.
Mt. Sims has made a sub-genre crossover record with Happily Ever After. Mt. Sims–which is the self-reflexive musical moniker taken on by artist Matt Sims-–is still firmly entrenched in ’80s electronic, but has moved away from the electro of his debut record, Ultrasex, into the moodier, slightly more rock-oriented side of New Wave. This record is going to be heard over headphones a lot more than in clubs.
The production on Happily Ever After is thick and vibrant, allowing Sims to sing slow, sad melodies slowly while retaining high-energy tunes. This gives the record a decidedly Joy Division tone, that ideal mix of brooding, anxiety and burgeoning sexual energy. When atmospheric synths lap softly against moaning lyrics like “Where love is self-inflicted and the meaning has escaped / Where all the sweet intentions have turned into resentments” as they do on the album’s presumable single, “Grave,” it’s hard to believe Sims isn’t going for that dark-eyeliner, solitary, bedroom slow-dancing sound.
Sims makes sure that the listener is as aware of the style he’s aping at any given moment as he is. He slips in and out of a German accent on his Kraut-rock impressions “Playing for Keeps” and “Andy or Jenny,” and a British one on the aforementioned “Graves.” “Window, Window” contains a direct musical reference to one of the biggest hits of the era of Sim’s infatuation, Soft Cell’s cover of “Tainted Love,” replicating the chorus’ pounding hook. “Sometimes I feel I want to [BOM BOM] get away.” Yeah, that one.
This is not to say that Sims spends the entire album mimicking or reveling in New Wave melodramatics. There is also a decidedly experimental bent to the record. There is nothing smooth about the album’s introductory title track, the throbbing, dissonant chords of which give in to something resembling loud white noise for its final 15 seconds. Similarly noisy moments, such as the blaring sax solos on “Dig It In” keep Sims’ wallowing interesting and make the album’s occasional outright pop song more welcome.
Happily Ever After is an eclectic homage to the darkness of synth rock in the ’80s. It strongly replicates the edge-of-cloying, gothic theatrics that were the hallmark of bedroom electronica. The album might sound like a simple tribute if Sims weren’t also able to produce the type of wonderfully odd tracks that could sound at home on the next album by The Knife. As it stands, Mount Sims is more than an artist to watch, he’s one to listen to closely.
Listen to “The Bitten Bite Back” from Mt. Sims: