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Anthony Carew

Introducing: Misfit Mod

By January 17, 2013

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Name: Misfit Mod
From: London, England
Story: Kiwi ex-pat makes minimalist, isolationist synth-pop
Sound: Drum-machine plod, dead-eyed singing, plentiful reverb

Misfit Mod is such a work of slow, plodding, dead-zone electro that the closest thing to a pop-single is "Queen Love Zero," a repetitive, monotonous trance-out that feels almost like a four-minute lock-groove.

Lots of these adjectives carry negative connotations, I understand. But Sarah Kelleher —the London-based, England-based ex-pat behind Misfit Mod— uses simplicity, slowness, and repetition as considered compositional tools; the beauty of this monotony in the ear of the beholder.

And to me, Misfit Mod's synth-pop drudgery is a beautiful thing to behold. It starts with "Queen Love Zero," in which Kelleher's multi-tracked voice dances with itself, turning her simple incantations into laggard poetry. Her voice is, like her music, effectively simple; but dowsed in reverb and laid on top of itself, it can be beautiful.

Amidst "Unreal," a four-minute trance-out that feels almost cloned from "Queen Love Zero," Kelleher's singing is pushed loud in the mix, and bounces off the simple architecture of the squelchy synths and rudimentary drum-machine thunk like a lone voice ricocheting around a cathedral.

The rest of Islands & Islands —the debut Misfit Mod LP, due out February 19 on Stars & Letters— is just as simple, slow, and repetitive, and just as beautiful. Photo © Ed Lust

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