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April 18, 2024

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The Maroons
You're Gonna Ruin Everything (In Music We Trust)

By: Scott D. Lewis

Ahh--the power of pop. Is there anything else that has such strengths? Pop music has the power to simultaneously sadden and warm the heart, the power to revisit the past and show the promise of the future, the power to wrap itself around the realities of our lives yet take us to completely new and unimagined worlds. The Maroons know about pop's powers, and after more than a five-year slumber, the seminal Portland scene favorites have returned in full control of their faculties and the splendid forces of bittersweet pop music. At the front and in the center of The Maroons' graceful songs is the alto-to-falsetto voice of John Moen, who has lent his drumming acumen to the likes of the somewhat similar-sounding Elliott Smith as well as The Spinanes and Fastbacks, and can currently be found beating it out for Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks. Moen sounds like the kid in class that always knew the answers, but never raised his hand; the boy all the girls thought was kind of cute though he was too busy starring at his shoes to notice their glances and giggles; the guy who's too shy to show up at his own party. The band behind him gives him the shove to shine. Their somewhat choppy, yet airy structures are steeped in classic pop and seem to provide the confidence and protection Moen needs to swim through his sing-song confessions. This happens at its finest during "Ruin Everything." The skipping ditty comes to immediate life via a driving drum beat, angular and fuzzy guitar, and a touch of sweeping keys. Moen's voice is at its fullest and warmest, and the song pushes perpetually forward, pulling the listener happily along. "9 1/2" has energy to spare, jump-started with racing drums and maintained by Moen's swimming swoon, while "Kevin's" vacillates between drifting passages and chunks of meaty rock guitar. All in all, the dozen tracks of "You're Gonna Ruin Everything" add up to a delightful listen that both harnesses and pays homage to the curious, compelling power of pop music.
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