MisterWives Weds Spunk And Sentiment In ‘Our Own House’

In less than three years of existence, the New York City indie pop group MisterWives has made a name for itself with loud, bright, anthemic music. Bouncing off of a successful 2014 EP––whose songs are all featured on their new album, Our Own House––MisterWives collaborated with the renowned producer Frequency and created even more new music. Teetering toward aggressively fun, Our Own House’s sound incorporates blaring horns, fast and syncopated rhythms, and spunky, beautiful vocals from lead singer Mandy Lee Duffy.

With a little bit of alternative and a lot of pop, the songs on this record are punchy and unique. From the band’s Reflections EP, “Reflections” and “Coffins” are the two standouts of the album, but for entirely different reasons. “Reflections” jams. Its lyrics are empowering and fierce in a way that is so desperately needed for women in the popular music industry. Mandy Lee Duffy writes her songs with an agenda to liberate women in a positive way, always underlining independence and strength.

“Coffins,” on the other hand, instils variety to both the EP and the complete album that can add depth to the entire work. “Coffins” is an intensely dramatic ballad, and as its title would suggest, the material is darker and more poignant than much of MisterWives’ other songs. Nonetheless, its musicality is on par with what MisterWives has set as a standard: incredible instrumentation, in this case featuring strings, and palpable emotion. The track is arguably less fun than many of the others, but it is no less valid.

Our Own House’s title track is quintessential MisterWives––it is without a doubt the best-produced, strongest single of the new album. As Duffy captivates listeners with her lively vocals, a gradual instrumental pickup leads to a loud, powerful, booming crescendo with every chorus. The bass line grooves along with added rhythm and electric guitar, but most notable in this song are the horns. Different from typical indie pop, the brass in this song speaks to dynamic nature of the album. It’s unconventional, it’s noisy, and it’s good.

More understated than most of the other tracks on the album is “Oceans.” It’s a compelling, beachy song with a smooth and quiet groove. While its effortless instrumentation lends to its vocals throughout the verses, the chorus shows some added dimension. Adding a heavier, rhythmic element to the chorus allows the song to have a climactic moment, all while maintaining a cool, island-like sound.

“No Need For Dreaming” is another track that represents the anthemic side of MisterWives. Though it begins calmly, the song quickly develops into a soulful, uplifting chorus with strong electric guitar and more of the album’s tasteful brass. “Best I Can Do” is similar in nature, taking advantage of the band’s excellent musicianship and powerful sound. Its syncopation, coupled with rousing horn blasts and solid percussion, perfectly compliments Duffy’s smooth yet fierce vocal line.

Some of Our Own House’s tracks do fall to a more expected, rote pop sound. At any rate, these songs are still accessible and enjoyable and will undoubtedly be supported by MisterWives’ audiences. “Hurricane” and “Box Around the Sun,” are two examples of rather “stock” pop songs. They are great for featuring Duffy’s singing, but they are not special in doing so. The instrumentation is well-done, but not unique. It is unrepresentative of the way MisterWives values a more funky, soulful pop interpretation, especially through most of this record. These songs are good, but they don’t fit with the largely exceptional album.

Perhaps more important than the impressive musicality of Our Own House is the message of empowerment and strength. All while maintaining an approachable, supportive energy, Duffy sings as an independent and fierce female who makes no apologies for her confidence. “Not Your Way” is exemplary in this way: it is female-focused. It is powerful. It is a song to make you dance. Duffy’s lyrics speak real truths of gender inequalities in a medium that is inspired and interpretive: in 2015, these messages need to be heard.

 Featured Image Courtesy of Republic Records