Our Take: The Melancholic Dream of “Centerfold” by MOTHXR

MOTHXR © Eric Bouccan

Our Rating

As music continues to constantly shift into new and unique styles and genres, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain any inimitability within the craft. With these incessant shifts, people are becoming more and more desensitized to freshness–something that has been sacredly harbored for so long. It is harder than ever to truly stand out in this sea of sounds.

In this ever-changing world of music, you would be hard-pressed to find a band that succeeds in squashing preconceived ideas more than Brooklyn-based four-piece MOTHXR. Still very much in their infancy, only first coming together in 2014, MOTHXR has managed to shine as a bright star in a dark indie sky, fostering matchless musical talent and commendable technical ability that should not be ignored. They are magnetic, enchanting, and unremittingly narcotic.

The group is still incredibly new to the music scene, and is still finding their footing in the realm of indie music. Nonetheless, they have successfully begun firmly planting themselves, with the release of their debut album Centerfold being released on February 26. Centerfold is a sonically intoxicating blend of technically perfected backing tracks with hauntingly enrapturing vocals, and ultimately wins out as being one of the most prominent indie records to be released as of late.

The album opens with the scathing and potent “Impossible,” with lead singer Penn Badgley’s (yes, that one), melancholic voice dominating over bouncing guitars and persistent drum beats. “Impossible” is followed by “Stranger,” which is feels just as potent as its predecessor; the last lyric in the song’s chorus, “She thinks she knows me; I don’t give a fuck at all,” feels especially biting.

Listen: “Stranger” – MOTHXR


The next track, the eponymous “Centerfold,” sees Badgley’s haunting voice crooning over particularly dreamy instrumentals; a pairing that makes the track feel especially poignant. The lightness in these instrumentals are not at all akin to the song’s lyrics; “Centerfold” tells of a rather insipid woman, about whom Badgley cannot decide his feelings. The album treks on with “Underground,” a redundant yet enjoyable track that flows well with harmonized vocals and spirited guitar.

As the album goes on, the bouncy, addictive tracks “Touch” and “Fight This Feeling” take the stage, utilizing energized guitar riffs and Badgley’s propensity for switching between particularly high and low notes–occasionally harmonizing the two together–to create tracks that are astutely effervescent.

“Easy,” the following track, makes itself known immediately: punctuating drum beats instantly kick down the proverbial door, followed by an addicting and repetitive guitar riff, and Badgley’s confident crooning. Next comes “Victim,” a haunting and impressive indie gem that stands out from the rest of the album. It is dark, mesmerizing, and methodical; it enraptures its listeners to the very end.

Do you ever wonder,
If feelings ever flounder?
Stuck inside a verb that’s never resting.

Watch: “Victim” – MOTHXR


The album then glides into the airy and technically solid “She Can’t Tell,” which utilizes its well-crafted backing track with tastefully done autotune to create a track that will almost instantly get stuck in your head. Following “She Can’t Tell,” “Wild Ride” is notably slower and more wistfully engaging; it is the perfect track to listen to as you stare out the window during a thunderstorm.

So until I get it right,
Still it was a wild ride.
The night was always long,
I see it –
We’re aching from the fall.

– “Wild Ride” by MOTHXR

Centerfold ultimately closes with the quixotic and rapturous “I Can See You’ll Never Make It Out,” which, like “She Can’t Tell,” finds an attractive sound with help from conspicuously tasteful autotune. The track’s impassioned redundancy and romanticized mixing aid the album in ending on a strong note, and ultimately prove that MOTHXR’s musical aptitude is not to be ignored.

Music has continued to shift in its sound and content, and will only further evolve as time goes on. It is constantly challenging conventions, allowing for the artist to explore and experiment with a craft to which they have wholeheartedly connected themselves. With its incessant shifts, it’s only a matter of time before everything is ultimately a regurgitation of the same things; it will inevitably be increasingly difficult to stand out. Artists will have to continuously challenge themselves and their craft, and it will be necessary to incorporate a uniqueness unlike anything experienced before. MOTHXR successfully and masterfully achieves this inimitability, and their debut record only further proves their worth. Centerfold is an addictingly melancholic dream; a glimmering, matchless indie gem in the midst of otherwise homogeneous dregs of sound.

You can buy Centerfold on iTunes here.

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MOTHXR (Source: Facebook)

MOTHXR (Source: Facebook)

Centerfold – MOTHXR

Centerfold - MOTHXR (c) 2016 Washington Square Music

Centerfold – MOTHXR (c) 2016 Washington Square Music

MOTHXR 2016 Tour

Tickets available at mothxr.com

4/14/16 – High Noon Saloon – Madison, WI
4/15/16 – Turner Hall- Milwaukee, WI
4/16/16 – Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL
4/18/16 – Blind Pig – Ann Arbor, MI
4/20/16 – Lee’s Palace – Toronto, Canada
4/21/16 – Petit Campus – Montreal Metro Area, Canada
4/22/16 – Brighton Music Hall – Allston, MA
4/23/16 – Warsaw – Brooklyn, NY
4/25/16 – Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA
4/26/16 – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC
4/28/16 – Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC
4/29/16 – Terminal West – Atlanta, GA
4/30/16 – Mercy Lounge – Nashville, TN
5/1/16 – The Mothlight – Asheville, NC
5/4/16 – Madison, Live – Covington, KY
5/5/16 – The Basement – Columbus, OH
5/6/16 – Rose Music Hall – Columbia, MO
5/7/16 – The Bottleneck – Lawrence, KS

The Breakdown

Maggie McHale

Maggie is the Chief Music Director for Atwood Magazine, currently living in Philadelphia. She also works as a music manager and cultural liaison via her management company, PBG MGMT. She is heavily involved in the arts and music scene in the City of Brotherly Love, working previously for as a digital marketer for Fame House, a Universal Music Group subsidiary, and as a staff writer for JUMP Magazine. A self-proclaimed “hug enthusiast” and dog lover, Maggie also enjoys fashion, travel, the paranormal, and drinking way too much coffee.