Leo Bargery – Mt. Doubt to you and me – has been a busy man. Since 2015, he’s released two albums and with new release This Must Mean Something Awful, three EPs. He’s prolific on a remarkable scale. But what is even more remarkable is that with each collection of songs, he proves that you don’t have to choose between quantity and quality. Let’s have a look at how Mt. Doubt’s latest effort continues that trend.
After several listens through, I can make two statements about This Must Mean Something Awful. Firstly: this is Mt. Doubt’s most intimate and exposed work to date. Secondly: though only four songs long, this is clearly an EP of two halves.
Let us discuss my first point. Mt. Doubt’s music has always had a core consisting of effortless songwriting and Bargery’s rich voice. But previous releases have wrapped that up in layers of production. Don’t get me wrong, the songs always sounded sumptuous, but I’m enjoying the maturity shown to leave that behind and hone in on what truly matters. It’s a shift which signals a musician growing and evolving.
My second point references the split in instrumentation styles between the EP’s first two tracks; ‘A Head to the Kerb Stone’ and ‘Angel-Headed’, and the latter two songs ‘Blemishes’ and ‘Pleasure Beach’. All four are stripped to their bare bones, but what we discover are two different approaches to the same end result.
The first two tracks favour synths and electronic flourishes for emphasis over Mt. Doubt’s usual weapon of choice, the acoustic guitar. The effect is a dream-like ambience of curiosity and solitude which Bargery’s voice thrives within. ‘Angel-Headed’ also features a little bass guitar flick at 48 seconds which I love. It’s something I associate fiercely with Mt. Doubt and always brings a smile to my face.
The last two songs on the EP see Bargery returning to his acoustic guitar, losing much of the synths and keyboard. They’re tender, raw and once again lull you into a surreal fantasy world. For emphasis, we find carefully considered guitar plucking, most effectively deployed in ‘Pleasure Beach’.
So two different approaches, both of which help to peel away excess layers and reveal Mt. Doubt at his most honest. This Must Mean Something Awful is an EP which definitely delivers on the promises of its predecessors. And if we know anything about Mt. Doubt, it’s that we can look forward to another, even better, collection of songs in six months or so.