Written by: Alex Green
“Heydays are passing/Your house has been rented several times over by prettier girls,” sings Great Lakes Myth Society’s Timothy Monger. It’s a moody observation, but the band’s second album Compass Rose Bouquet is loaded with tons more just like it. What seems to trouble the songwriters of this Michigan outfit (Monger shares vocal/songwriting duties with brother James Christopher and Gregory Dean McIntosh) is the past, yes, but more specifically, just what the hell we’re supposed to do with all of the moments of our lives once they’re gone.
Employing the sweet delivery and nimble poeticism of Paul Simon, numbers like “Heydays” and “Midwest Main Street” are particularly winning. Meanwhile, the crunchy pop of “Summer Bonfire” and “Eastern Birds” sounds like Dear 23-era Posies. But the album’s piece de resistance is “Queen of the Barley Fool.” A truly American number in both its imagery and its folksy stomp, James Christopher sings: “I hear the jukebox playing your Smithsonian Folkways tune/And all the drunks are singing and they think they’re in love with you.” It sounds like The Pogues being channeled by The Decemberists–but way, way better.
While Great Lakes Myth Society offer iconography culled from U.S. history, they also examine the bones of a broken heart with forensic, CSI-like precision. Check out Timothy’s post-mortem on the stunning “Stump Speech”: “Ooh, love, are your nights with him worth the seeds we’d sown?” So what does this all add up to? Oh, nothing too big—just a resounding confirmation of mortality and the reminder that everything in life is ephemeral and fleeting.
“Our eyes turn to glass and shine on blind,” sings McIntosh on the sweeping six-minute epic “The Gales Of 1838.”
In other words, the only way to remember is to let go first.