As they get ready for their Coachella debut this weekend, Miami synth-pop duo Magdalena Bay surprised their fans with mini mix vol. 3, a 15-minute audiovisual project with five brand new tracks. The longest release so far from the mini mix series feels like an explosion of dream-pop sounds, with a lo-fi energy and layered harmonies, that reminds me of Clairo’s early DIY tracks like “B.O.M.D.” and “Hello?” that I love so much.
These mini projects have allowed Mica Tenenbaum and Matt Lewin to remind their listeners how their music comes to be. In “Slug Song,” the band mixes synth-wave sounds with brass instruments, resulting in an instrumental with little specs that in a way resemble The 1975’s signature sound, blending classic rock with electronic and ambient details. However on track 2, “EXO”, they unexpectedly jump to a heavier and fully rockier style. Mica’s voice is almost a whisper, contrasting but not clashing with the loud electric guitars and distorted effects. The lyrics almost go unnoticed on most of the songs, as the production takes the spotlight like it usually does in Magdalena Bay’s entire discography.
“2 Wheel Drive” immediately sounded to me like a simpler version of a Glass Animals song; a track with a fuzzy texture and tribal-ish influences, with a fun but not too-catchy melody and a synthesizer that goes from soft and almost childish to eventually taking over the song. The following track “Top Dog” is definitely the poppiest one in the mix, and probably my favorite. The vocals play a bigger part than they do in any of the other songs with a handful of layered vocals being comped in a way that scratches my brain in all the right places, while also maintaining the fuzziness of the duo’s production style. These two are the kind of songs that a crowd will be inevitably swaying and dancing to at a festival like Coachella, and they almost fully match the stereotypes and extravagant outfits that take over the internet during the two weekend event in California.
On “Tonguetwister,” Tenenbaum and Lewin fall more into the hyper-pop category that they’re a lot of the times mistakenly put in. With a slightly off-putting jump from the verse’s melody to the chorus, there is a bigger EDM influence, and the structure of a regular pop song is nowhere to be found. Mica’s cursive singing is highlighted as it compensates for the strong and overwhelming synth progressions that take over the song from the first chorus. This song then ends abruptly and proceeds to jump into something that feels like it got placed in the mix by accident: the final track titled “Wandering Eyes.”
“Wandering Eyes” is a calm, soothing number that makes absolutely no sense in this EP, but it’s also somehow perfect. Mica sings about having had enough of being so devoted and in love, and is almost pleading with their significant other to give them a break from it all, while also apologizing for not being absolutely obsessed with them anymore. It feels like the right closing ballad for the “mini mix vol. 3,” as we get a moment to catch our breath at the end of a project full of loud and strong arrangements, and we’re again allowed to just sit with our complex, everyday feelings once again.
Magdalena Bay will be performing at Coachella on Friday, April 14th and Friday, April 21st.