Melbourne’s pop quartet Totally Mild released their sophomore album Her on February 23.
Comprised of lead singer Elizabeth Mitchell, guitarist Zachary Schneider, drummer Ashley Bundang, and bassist Lehmann Smith, Totally Mild’s cotton candy sound hides their deeper lyrical genius. Mitchell describes Her as “…a document of a woman struggling with the idea of potential. We are told that we could be limitless, but we wrestle with unseen personal and structural walls.”
Totally Mild’s Her is a deeply personal self exploration
The opening track “Sky” begins with a stream of silence and then an otherworldly synthesizer. This track is haunting and simple. Lacking a drum line and composed of just synth, minimal guitar/bass, and Mitchell’s voice, we drift along the high this song creates. The repetitive nature of this song balances the lyrics with the eventual complexity of the background instruments.
“Pearl” is groovy and picks up the pace of the album. Strong drum and guitar lines create a steady foundation for the breathy vocals that lay over top. This song builds from start to finish and creates an atmospheric rock tone that reminds one of the psychedelic music era.
“Working like a Crow” is a head bobbing mellow flow that follows a simple melody. Totally Mild sets a tone that is as continuous as the lyrics and the message. The occasional guitar riff and instrumental change at the chorus gives this song depth and changes the tone every so often.
“From One Another” was a previously released single. With an unearthly vibe and open vocals, this song reflects the message of the album. A woman is trapped in a banal relationship and wishes to escape the ordinary and find the extraordinary. Defined guitar strums give this song a different level along with their typical synth heavy melodies.
“Lucky Stars” is the second single released before the album. One of the only dreamy piano ballads, it sings of young lovers trying to find their way and yearns to be in love that pure. Simplicity at its finest, Mitchell’s alto is strong yet breathless on top of the piano melody.
The last single released, “Today Tonight” is nothing like the other two. It is funky and quirky. Hidden among the beat of the drums and a groovy bass, the guitar riffs and electricity are the real heros of this tune. Falling in between this chorus of instruments is Mitchell’s voice that just ties it all together.
“Underwater” is another spacious song about being trapped in your own mind with a relationship. The whole song is muted, as if you were submerged. The background guitar shines through Mitchell’s vocals and connects with the listener in a more toned down way than the rest of the album.
“Take Today” brings the energy of the album back up. Giving previous songs a run for their money, all members of the group are out in full force. With plucky guitar riffs and downright complex bass and drum lines, Mitchell’s vocals are outshone by her Totally Mild bandmates for the first time. She is being carried by the melody and instrumentals. Her vocals are strong and for the first time, positive. She is telling the listener to take control of their life and “take today.”
“More” gives the listener more of everything. Beginning with a strong drum/guitar dual, Mitchell’s voice takes over and is as haunting as ever. Mitchell’s vocals reach a new height as she follows staircase scales throughout.
The last song on this album is “Down Together,” starts out acapella and airy. Light and atmospheric, Mitchell sets a tone that can only be found in this song. Simple guitar over top a simple drum line throughout the verses showcase the vocals and lyrical message about eternal love, whether it be healthy or not. The guitar sets the pace and keeps the rhythm as the song eventually turns out to be a pop rock classic.
Totally Mild has released a totally exploratory album. Not only is Her filled with instant classics, it stretches the bounds of modern pop music. Totally Mild has found the line, crossed it, and established a new norm for pop music.