When I find myself in the alley behind my house, I am reminded that the world is disgusting in new and creative ways. I’ve watched a clove of garlic decompose step-by-step, seen a pet carrier that had clearly been jail broken, and even been astounded by the sudden appearance of twenty-plus egg shells. Mu duo Francesca Belcourt and Brittney Rand’s newest release II is a piece of careful, dream-pop escapism. Synth-rich, texturally complex backgrounds create a land where I can walk through my alley and see this shit without gagging. All the gross stuff goes away, and even transforms into whimsy.
II is confident, ambitious. Francesca Belcourt and Brittany Rand’s first full-length album from Boompa follows a successful self-titled EP released two years ago that was less polished. Belcourt was additionally met with warm reception for her solo album ZONGS, released through Genero in 2015.
Songs like “Disarmed” and “Deep Woods” build slower than Mu’s previous work, with more ceremony before the dancefloor kicks in. The vocal melodies compete less in this release, creating consolidated harmonies. Where Mu’s EP was a piece of offhand catharsis, II is the product of polished planning, and deliberate embellishment.
The blue haired, crowned figures on II’s cover are a vision. The fantasy becomes more palpable in the video for “Debauchery,” which features Belcourt and Rand running around with a shopping cart while a few of their glittered-up pals have their own dance sesh. It’s a giggly, blissful atmosphere that complements the upbeat momentum of the song. The two have spoken to The FADER about how the video represents a “coming of age in an era obsessed with itself,” and the video shows that this can be something to celebrate and even indulge in.
The mise-en-scene is rosy but album doesn’t shy away from heavier issues. People will be drawn to “Vampire,” the glockenspiel adorned critique of Vancouver’s support for independent artists. But the album reaches its emotional climax on “Deep Woods,” addressing the role of supporters for those with depression.
At just six tracks, the album and fantasy isn’t forever. Your millennial bullshit, on the other hand…the songs don’t let you escape your problems, but change the setting and the veneer.