[Album Review] Concealer- fêted​:​fetid
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concealer

Release Date: September 4th, 2015
Label: Coax/Weatherbelle

In a music scene crowded with electronic duos Concealer manages to mark out territory of their own, which is a laudable accomplishment in itself. Frankly, the majority of the heavy lifting is done by songwriter Mark Davis, who provides vocals, bass and percussion. However, the tone of the music is created by the electronic backwash, thanks to the keyboard work of mismannered. Third member credit should also go to Lorrie Matheson. She not only provides some important guitar touches but also acts as producer, a very important role when you’re talking about music of this nature.

If you were to distill it down, Davis’ songs are primarily dark folk, with a good dose of baroque pop and a hint of blues. His melodies are clever and engaging without being cloying. But, the reason that this partnership works so well is that mismannered transforms these songs by adding all-important context to the production. The sadcore “Throw It Away”, for example, becomes a bleak work of future noir, and the yacht pop “Horns and Crown” becomes a rousing synth rocker. The creative synergy between the two artists defines them as a musical unit, as opposed to a mere collaboration.

Their inventiveness is high, and we are treated to a wide variety of styles and sounds – krautrock/motorik, darkwave, synthwave, etc. However, despite the variety in the output, their formula tends to tends to follow the same pattern – mismannered lays down the electronic beat and rhythm, and then Davis inserts the melodic core. Once established, the songs do not significantly evolve or progress. This is perhaps more an observation than a criticism, because Concealer work their formula to perfection, with the songs getting stronger as you get deeper into the record. In fact, the final three tracks are the album’s finest. “High and Blind” is a sweet slice of neo-glam, complete with a fuzzy guitar stomp and T-Rex-style reverberating vocals. “Sank” is probably the liveliest song here, with an infectious beat and power-pop groove that you never want to end.

The closing number “Throw Me to the Lions” is most notable for the fact that the duo actually throws out the aforementioned formula as there is true progression throughout its length. The track starts out with pillowy-soft synths but they are soon replaced by a slinky electronic rhythm and faux African beats. Davis’ song is a slow-burner, punctuated by mismannered’s keyboard flourishes which become increasingly insistent as the track unfolds. Something of a masterwork.