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Madder Rose return after 20 years with their fifth studio album, “To Be Beautiful”, that will be released August 10th via Trome Records.
Madder Rose are Billy Cote, Mary Lorson, Rick Kubic, Matt Verta-Ray and Chris Giammalvo.
Formed in 1991 in Greenwich Village, New York, they quickly became a prominent addition to the vibrant 90’s alternative music landscape.
Their languid song-craft and distorted guitar noise drew comparisons with prevalent transatlantic genres grunge, dreampop and shoegaze, and the 1993 debut Bring It Down saw them heralded by the British music press as ‘the new Velvet Underground’. Indeed, Cote cited VU, Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine as major influences at the time, along with Joni Mitchell and old gospel blues.
Crucially however, they did their own thing, maintaining an independence in sound and integrity of vision that set them apart from limiting categorisation and genre tribalism. Bring It Down’s insular sound, mood-laden lyrics and loud, distorted guitars struck a chord with both college radio and mainstream critics. Follow up Panic On (1994) had a brighter, more expansive production, with Mary’s vocals brought to the fore. The songs felt more self-assured and cohesive, bolstered by tauter performances honed during an extensive touring schedule across the US and Europe. Inspired by dub and trip hop, third album Tragic Magic (1997) dispensed with their previously guitar-heavy sound, instead focusing on percussive rhythms and bass, and of course, Mary’s melodic voice. With 1999’s Hello June Fool the band returned to their guitar-based set-up, but introduced samples and inventive drum patterns. With each release their music developed and explored new territories. So too did the band members however, and by the time Hello June Fool was released, Rick was in Chicago, Chris in Brooklyn, and Mary and Billy were in Ithaca, NY. At the end of the 90’s, after four albums and numerous tours which saw them perform at the Reading Festival and open for Juliana Hatfield and Hole, they decided to disband.
In the intervening years they have remained creatively active with numerous solo projects, along with Lorson and Cote collaborations, being released. Rumours of a Madder Rose return persisted however, and in 2018 recording began in earnest on a new LP, the fifth studio album and their first record in 20 years. With To Be Beautiful, Madder Rose retain elements of their signature formula, forging sad songs with dreamy melodies and honeyed vocals, often against a backdrop of heavy, wrangled guitars. However the willingness to push their sound also remains, with refined, minimal song structures, pared-down acoustic guitar songs, electronic textures and atmospheric ambient experiments now part of their oeuvre. With the helpfully descriptive subtitle ‘Pretty Songs About Death, With Noise’, To Be Beautiful sees Madder Rose return to form with a stylistically varied collection of songs about loss, heartache and hope.