«Joy,» the band’s new album, is a portrait of painfully alert despair and the sublime brightness at its border.
WHO: Stevie Pohlman, Jon Barron, Matt Radosevich, Joe Benassi, Nik Barnaby.
SOUNDS LIKE: A war between terror and bliss.
FOR FANS OF: Alex Chilton, the Feelies, Brian Eno.
Stevie Pohlman thought the worst of the depression was over. But last year, while working on Joy, the debut LP from Pohlman’s band, Mope Grooves, darkness rushed in.
«It really took me by surprise, and it was just as bad or worse than when I was a teenager,» the 27-year-old Pohlman says. «Like really bad, suicidal ideation.»
The day after completing work on Joy, which features contributions from members of Honey Bucket, Woolen Men and Patsy’s Rats, Pohlman checked into OHSU and waited for a bed to open up in the psych ward. As Pohlman tells it, September 2016 was a peak month for severe depression in Portland. There weren’t any beds free. Pohlman eventually bailed, opting instead for a ‘shroom-assisted camping trip on the Clackamas River.
Mushrooms aren’t a permanent cure, though. And making Joy, a quickening portrait of painfully alert despair and the sublime brightness at its border, did not provide much of an afterglow. Pohlman has been having a hard time again, though Mope Grooves’ upcoming North American tour might provide a routine to ward off the shape-shifting demon of depression.
«To escape my head, I need to work,» Pohlman says. «I need to be really busy all the time.»
Pohlman’s hard work has resulted in a poppy post-punk masterpiece, a perfectly sequenced album that lights up the spaces between Brian Eno, the Feelies and Dwight Twilley. Although it will surely bring more people into the Mope Grooves fold, the success of the band isn’t a priority for Pohlman. In fact, the band’s members didn’t want to release Joy on vinyl unless they were sure it would be useful for other humans.
«I only want to justify the creation of these platters that go into people’s rooms if they come with some kind of meaning behind them that can be used as a tool in everyday life,» Pohlman says. «I only want to run this operation if it’s something that can give to the community.»
Nota : Wilamette Week