Please Don't Stop (Austin Town Hall)
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., June 1, 2018
Sprouted alongside adventurously erudite Austin indie acts including Mother Falcon, Belaire, and the Sour Notes, Marmalakes spends lots of musical capital striving to reconcile intimate moments with grand ambitions. The homegrown folk-pop duo's full-length debut and first new material in five years addresses the latter with superlative production and enhanced focus on arrangements. That intensity of attentiveness might explain why this album took so long. At the same time, strategically deployed levity and quirks keep furrows from setting in. These competing elements reach full flower on "Milwaukee," an upbeat pop gem that sails toward summer immortality on the strength of an irresistible riff, lyrical musings on "the lo-fi of this life askew," and a clever false ending approximating the sound of a shorted-out cable. "Not Gonna Control You" takes a blockier, more elemental approach, layering effects-tinged vocal harmonies and lush instrumentation over a slow-motion strut and echoing hand claps. The album's energy sometimes gets compromised by sanded-down edges, as when opener "Vittoria" gains power and concision over its past iteration on 2010's Wonder Winds EP, but sacrifices some shambling charm. Even so, Please Don't Stop remains a striking testament to the evolution of Marmalakes.