March 20, 2013

Marnie Stern: The Chronicles of Marnia

Kill Rock Stars


Marnie Stern's brilliant third record arrives just in time for spring. As epic as the cheeky title suggests, The Chronicles of Marnia is bright and blissful, a rush of staccato vocals and virtuosic guitar, as melodic and anthemic as the best power pop, with all the nuance of west coast indie greats like Stephen Malkmus and Sleater-Kinney.

The sunny veneer is almost misleading, as multiple listens reveal the lyrics' melancholy. “I'm losing hope in my body,” Stern belts on the chorus of “You Don't Turn Down.” Stern is spitting bitterness, “getting kind of lonely in the mirror with no family,” but the song's energy is catching nevertheless. This doubles for the record as a whole, uplifting in spite of it all, an act of joyful defiance.

Chronicles' ten tracks clock in at just 33 minutes, but the record is dense, each song a small odyssey. The album reaches a peak with the triumphant title track, Stern both proud and vulnerable, “I'm workin', I'm workin' so damn hard I miss you lover, I hope you're proud of me.” The pace keeps up to the end. The feeling it leaves is best summed up by title of the final track: “Hell Yes.”