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Passionfix — Mess
((Not on label) no#, 2021, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2021-10-31

Mess Cover art

Passionfix is an interesting group. The Baltimore based band hasn’t played a live show since the early 90s, instead opting to become strictly a studio project for the last 30 years. Members have come and gone over the years, but the core of the band remains guitarist, keyboardist, and songwriter Dave Kelly and bassist Mike Kearney, and the current lineup (for this album and its 2020 predecessor This and That) includes singer Kelly Secret and drummer Simon Harris. Add to that a handful of guest musicians on piano, violin, accordion and additional percussion, and you have all of the bases covered for an album that ranges from direct straight-on rock to gentle folk and beyond, and Secret has no problem covering whatever style she finds herself singing. The album’s odd title refers to the state of the world we find ourselves living in from 2020-2021 (the album was released in August ‘21) with the pandemic and all, how the world seems to be in a mess, and the anxiety that many are having to deal with, reflected in many of the lyrics in the thirteen songs herein. The album opens with the title track, sporting an aggressive near-punk style and vocals to match, and when Secret sings the refrain “I don’t want more, just give me less; I hate you world, you’re such a mess,” she delivers the angst in a most believable.way. “Clouds” pushes a new-wavey sound with jangly guitars aplenty, while “April” seems to give a nod of positivity to the end of a pandemic that in fact didn’t end, but it still stands as one of t he album’s finest tracks. From there we move on to “Anxiety,” a slower number that sadly incorporates a section of white-girl rapping. Didn’t Blondie already do that forty-some years ago. The remaining nine cuts offer blends of folk and rock in varying degrees, some uptempo and some down, often with mysterious lyrics, with Secret singing them with all her heart. On some of these last nine, I get the feeling that I’ve been here before, often bearing a strong similarity to songs on the previous album, though there are some real gems like “What’s in the Air,” the overt rocker “Question,” “Andy Don’t You Go,” and the dark and mysterious “Outside of Time.” To its strong credit, Mess incorporates more extremes than the previous album, which makes it the more interesting of the two.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): Passionfix

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