Reviews Mikey Erg Tentative Decisions

Mikey Erg

Tentative Decisions

It took all of three seconds into Tentative Decisions, about 10 seconds before his unmistakable voice, to ID the record as being made by Mikey Erg. Drummer/guitarist/vocalist in bands ranging including but definitely not limited to The Ergs!, The Dopamines, Worriers, The Slow Death, and so many more. Erg’s work has long been built on a pop-punk foundation, emotional indecision (note the album title), and his longing voice that’s well suited to that indecisive note.

Those lyrics and vocals define this record. Using descriptive imagery Erg paints visual settings where he uses metaphoric descriptors like “I’ve got the emptiest bed in the loneliest room tonight” (“1001 Smashed Motel Rooms”). The visual conveys his core emotion and his voice elongates and emotes on the words to paint that mental picture while the melody of the song pushes forward, struggling to keep afloat amidst that loneliness.

Musically the record has a clear tie to Erg’s early work. The structures and his voice are the same, but the instrumentation and body of the sound are different. On Tentative Decisions the guitar and voice rule the way, whereas in The Ergs! his drumming carrying more of the load with distinct fills and a continual push forward. On the solo record the sound is stripped down. It’s a full band on record but the tone is less filled out, perhaps anticipating a one-man live show. On “Apart Time,” for example, some backing vocals would add a nice effect. In “Comme Si About Me,” which has a beautiful melody that drops and picks back up quickly, it’s classic Erg-style songwriting but the guitar feels front and center instead of equalized in the mix. “Scenic Turnout” has a British folk sound that’s haunting and building, toned down and atmospheric instead of the familiar pop structure. Returning to the familiar, “An Abundance of Julies” has a notable similarity to The Ergs’ cover of the should-be-forgotten ‘90s song “Hey Jealousy.” It’s mostly a pop and pop-punk sound across the record, but with various texture within.

A Mikey Erg solo record (after all these years) sounds, you got it, like Mikey Erg. His already familiar songwriting style is up front and defines the tone, while the general sound of the record never strays too far from its roots. Sure, “NyQuil and Sudafed” scales the tempo back and adds a little fuzz, and “1001 Smashed Motel Rooms” has some limited organ, but this is Mikey Erg at the microphone with a guitar strapped to his chest. Lyrically, it’s Erg reaching through that guitar and tearing out his heart while standing center stage for all to see. Think of this as The Ergs! meets Billy Bragg.

7.5 / 10Loren
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7.5 / 10

7.5 / 10

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