Mamalarky radiates a wholesome optimism that is absolutely infectious. From the second the band hopped on Zoom to discuss their forthcoming album, Pocket Fantasy, out Sept. 30 via Fire Talk Records, they exuded a certain glow like there was nowhere in the world they would rather be than with each other. Today (July 20), the band shares their new single from the record, “Mythical Bonds.”
“It’s a song about friendship and appreciating my bandmates. I feel like there’s not enough out there talking about how important those bonds are,” guitarist-vocalist Livvy Bennett tells Paste. “I really like writing love songs and writing introspective songs, too. But I was like, ‘Why have I never made an ode to how important my bandmates are to me?’”
A bite-size moment of bliss, the single sports a whimsical bassline and carefree “la la la”’s sprinkled throughout that feel like the friendships that make the rest of the world melt away. “I think our approach is to lead with something that can bring happiness,” Bennett says of the single. Rounded out with some impromptu cowbell on the bridge, the track evokes the sun-soaked afternoons the band spent swimming in between recording.
The “Mythical Bonds” video, directed by Ambar Navarro, matches that energy. “Filming this video felt like the most sincere encapsulation of this song. We just ran around in the sun and played dress up in my room all day,” says Bennett. “Sometimes videos can feel self-conscious or something, but this was very natural, since it’s just a little glimpse into how we spend our time normally.”
This laid-back elation is ingrained in the fabric of Mamalarky, whether it’s from the way that bassist Noor Kahn talks about Bennett’s unrelenting encouragement while she tracked bass, or the playful twee elements they incorporate into not only the single, but also Pocket Fantasy as a whole.
Six months into the pandemic, 3/4’s of the band decided to move in together so they could continue to safely make music during quarantine. They settled into what used to be a dentist’s office in the ’20s that had been renovated into a quaint little hideout, complete with a tire swing and a (debatably) haunted attic, according to Kahn. Bennett, Khan and their keyboard player Michael Hunter were occasionally joined by their drummer, Dylan Hill, who was living in Austin at the time.
They spent their time fully submerged in the writing and recording process, going on “long-ass nature walks,” and “truly living in the album for over a year,” as Bennett recalls. In their make-shift basement studio, they found a release from the confines of recording with professionals, and instead relied on their mutual trust and intuition to create Pocket Fantasy.
“Without another person there that isn’t part of the band, you could sit there and be like, ‘Fuck! I suck!’ You could let yourself feel all of the emotions of recording music without being worried about what anyone else thinks, because the only people around are your bandmates, who you’ve known so long and are really close with,” Khan said.
Their free-form recording style allowed Mamalarky to record at their own pace and spend time experimenting without the strain of daunting deadlines. Their ambling approach allowed the band to craft their most authentic record yet, free from outside influence or the pressure to conform to someone else’s vision. “I’ve been in situations with engineers where I’m like ‘Don’t tell me what y’all want, I know what I want,’” Bennett said.
The majority of the tracks on Pocket Fantasy are spontaneous takes from practice sessions that made the final cut, giving the album a certain unfussed-over sense of humor and charm. The hands-on process of recording also spurred motifs that appear throughout the album, including the way nature and technology co-exist.
“[Livvy] was thinking a lot about how the natural world intersects with the very digital world we live in now, and how they’re both kind of beautiful, but also kind of weird in their own ways,” Hall said.
Immersed in nature, yet spending endless hours tinkering in the studio, the band explores this juxtaposition over 12 giddy psych-pop gems that will make you want to drop everything and call your friends to tell them how much you treasure them. Offering up a reminder of how lucky we are to have the people we love, Mamalarky manages to find joy and keep their faith despite the wonky circumstances of living through a pandemic.
Even as the world was falling into complete disarray, Mamalarky was intent on seeing the bright side and maintaining relentless hope for the future. An album that shines with an appreciation for the present and confidence in what’s to come, Pocket Fantasy is a ray of sunshine.
“I always come back to appreciation, even if you’re feeling kind of stuck,” says Bennett. “There’s themes of being mutually encouraging and excited for the future. I feel like at that point all we could really do was be like, ‘There’s going to be good things coming,’ and just trying to focus on the road ahead.”
Revisit Mamalarky’s 2022 Paste session below, and see the details of Pocket Fantasy further down.
Pocket Fantasy Tracklist:
01. Frog 2
02. Mythical Bonds
03. Little Robot
04. You Know I Know
05. It Hurts
07. Building Castles
08. Dance Together
09. Shining Armor
10. The Hour
11. Mote Controller
Pocket Fantasy Art:
Samantha Sullivan is a Paste Music intern and writer based in Philadelphia. She can be reached on Instagram @fangirlpurgatory.