Mariage Blanc - No Autobiography (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Mariage Blanc

No Autobiography (2015)


At first listen, Mariage Blanc resemble a distinct cross between Real Estate and Elliott Smith, a type of easygoing indie pop that's very easy to immediately like. For the most part, these obvious similarities dissipate with repeated listens, and while one might long for the charismatic hooks of the former (you might find yourself mistakenly humming Real Estate's "Had to Hear" in anticipation when preparing to play No Autobiography) or the always impressively contrasting moods of the latter (Smith's influence clearly infiltrates the acoustic "Stay with Me"), there's a lot to like about Mariage Blanc's strides for identity and the airy charm of this enjoyable full-length.

The nine songs here feature soft instrumentation and frontman Matt Ceraso's billowy upper register, the type of singing adopted by someone recent like Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin's Philip Dickey, would-be peers in a world where the latter band dialed it back further. But they do seem to reach back further into the annals of soft and folk rock, establishing a uniquely nostalgic environment on something like "Nowhere Town," which carries wistful '70s vibes. You sort of wish they'd explore the quiet anguish subtly boiling in "Shapeshifter" and "Bloodlines" a little more, granted; it's interesting to think what sort of polarities it could create on an otherwise placid record. Thematic topics here become a little vague in the abstract lyrics, but they certainly juxtapose things a bit, as there's some shades of loss, confusion, and the pains and wisdom growth begets, and at least one song that seems to hint at some regretfully religious upbringings (but maybe these are all just characters, given the album's title).

No Autobiography is a rather pleasant effort that offers warm familiarity, and while its quietude can occasionally deaden its slow-burning momentum, it disperses enough hooks and magnetism to be very worthwhile.