mary in the junkyard Conquer a Sonic Playground of Their Own Making in 'this old house'


One of the most explorative and progressive acts in alternative music right now, mary in the junkyard has released their highly-anticipated EP, this old house. The first body of work released by the band, this old house is a narrative arc of the sonic playground mary in the junkyard has conquered. Through their singles, listeners have been fed bite-sized portions of their eccentric style and textural palette; this old house is a feast with the band’s range all laid out before us. 

The lead single “ghost” sets the tone, establishing mary in the junkyard’s organic sense of creation. The drums shuffle with a cyclical groove while the guitar and bass flow in and out of harmony, simultaneously working in complement and contrast. Clari Freeman-Tyler’s vocals complete the mystical soundscape with her unparalleled delivery. She approaches each note with intentionality, letting some arc into a yodel while others fade into a speaking voice, all shaped to be the vessel for the words’ meaning. 

These two aspects are key components in mary in the junkyard’s singular sound: their visceral arrangement instincts and Freeman-Tyler’s whimsical vocals. Listeners hear them work in tandem in “goop,” where the band ventures into a Fiona Apple-adjacent world. The groove is sultry and entrancing, with the bass taking a step forward as the main accompaniment. Meanwhile, the guitar travels through a shrill yet musical sort of scratching sound, again highlighting mary in the junkyard’s mastery of organic atmosphere. Taking this sonic exploration one step further, the space shifts halfway through “goop,” as strings are invited into the space, plucking out pizzicato moments and crooning flowing melodies. The picturesque arrangement persists in “marble arch,” but in a more playful way, rather than ominous. Freeman-Tyler adopts a biting but delicate vocal style, exploring ethereal expanses alongside the bright groove. A hint of Vampire Weekend dances in the straight drum groove and cascading guitars. The lyrical content is transcendent, “Will your mother wash your mouth out with the soap she made for you?” 

Closing the EP is “Teeth,” which intertwines all of these qualities into an equally unsettling and awe-inspiring song. The strings from “goop” blossom, embarking on sliding scales that lean into the tension of dissonance. Piano chords plod at the base of the song’s controlled chaos, the energy ever-shifting through call-and-response melodies. There’s an old-world element to the sound, like a sort of sepia tenacity you’d dream of from a fantasy novel. We hear the EP’s title line in context, “This old house / with you curled up in the corner / And I'm out always out / Trying not to fall off the face of the earth again.”

Entirely in their own lane of sound, intention, and style, mary in the junkyard have a triumph on their hands with this old house, taking alternative to new places of sonic poeticism. 

Listen to this old house below:

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