Her Space Holiday: The Past Presents The Future
Wichita Recordings

Is there anything differentiating Marc Bianchi's Her Space Holiday from other proponents of 'bedroom electronic pop'? Well, previous albums Manic Expressive and The Young Machines certainly revealed an eccentric and original sensibility at work, and how many artists turn the radio off when they hear themselves on it the first time (as Bianchi did when he heard “My Girlfriend's Boyfriend” playing on a college radio station)? More importantly, he clearly understands that great pop music requires not only elaborate arrangements and appealing vocals, but most critically potent melodies and hooks, of which there's no shortage in the ten 'pocket symphonies' of The Past Presents the Future.

While the lyrical content of 2003's The Young Machines dealt with personal heartache and melancholy, the new one has its share of weighty themes too. While occasional moments find Bianchi retreating to the bedroom to nurse a broken heart and exorcise his misery through song, more often he spins his depressive morbidity into a wry and sardonic world-weariness. In “Missed Medicine,” for example, he pairs cynical self-absorption (“I figured out the key to short-term success/Just tell everyone that you're clinically depressed”) with bemused calculation in the chorus (“And it goes 1, 2, 3/Let's all exploit our misery”). And while there's evidence of hopelessness (“If you take me home tonight/I know that we will kiss/One of us will fall in love/And it will be a mess” he sings in “You and Me”), the album ends with optimism in its closing songs “The Great Parade” and “The Past Presents the Future.” Themes of renewal and romantic risk dominate the former (“You are my best part, fresh start/I'm hoping that you come along”) while acceptance and hope characterize the latter (“When I think about the world/How big it can seem/I know I can get through it all/With my best friend right next to me”). The Past Presents the Future reveals a more story-like approach to lyrics compared to past albums, as witnessed by the following in “Self Helpless”: “The time it took to pack and leave/You could have come to terms with his disease/But he filled his house with gasoline/And held the match for everyone to see.”

Bianchi cleverly couples his dour lyrics with their musical opposite: dense, dazzling arrangements filled with buoyant, sometimes euphoric carnival melodies that are as breezy as a summer evening stroll down the midway. Songs like “Forever and a Day” and “The Weight of the World” exude a light-hearted, celebratory feel, while the Rhodes-driven “Self Helpless” and the title song's simple folk style provide contrast to more elaborately arranged material. A soul bass attack gives “Missed Medicine” a funky minimal feel while “The Great Parade” works classic references (The Beatles' “Here Comes the Sun” and the “Be My Baby” drum beat) into its ambitious arrangement. Most impressively, the classical-tinged arrangement of strings, flute, oboe, clarinet, and electronics in “You and Me” is incredible (the orchestral writing in a brief middle section is especially remarkable). In keeping with the hopeful tone of its concluding lyrics, Bianchi ends The Past Presents the Future with outdoor sounds of birds and barking dogs, a peaceful gesture that brings this compelling outing to a satisfying close.

September 2005