Nicole Dollanganger – “Married in Mount Airy”

Nicole Dollanganger - "Married in Mount Airy"

My personal three favorites are definitely “Dogwood”, “Bad Man”, and “Sometime After Midnight”. The instrumentation on each of these tracks not only embodies the purest essence of who Nicole Dollanganger is artistically speaking, but serve as general monuments to the peak of which she’s climbed with this record. Something about the minimal approach in timbre with “Bad Man” really stuck out to me, too, where so much emotional power is present yet compacted into essentially just vocals and acoustic guitar. The record, even with its hints of reminiscence to older material, doesn’t feel predictable; Each song, even if having a similar lyrical theme, produces its very own atmosphere, the dynamic is virtually cinematic.

Anywhere that Heart Shape Bed lacked, be it in production value or even songwriting, Married in Mount Airy has absolutely delivered and surpassed for. With producer and likewise songwriting mastermind Matthew Tomasi providing helping hands on the mixing, it was sure to be a success. But, according to the liner notes, this was also produced, recorded, and mixed by Nicole herself, which is yet another admirable quality in this audible labor of love. It only adds to my point that Nicole has crafted a true permanent mark in the realm of ethereal, dark, dream pop-adjacent indie music; Where she was once sort of categorized as ‘bedroom pop’, she has now stamped herself with a massive wall of blissful and beautifully bitter sounds that will enchant listeners on a wider scale than ever before.

Easily some of her most quality pieces of music yet, I think the only track that fell flat for me, if I had to pick one, would be the interlude, “Summit Song”. Even with this statement, that is not to say the song is bad at all, the instrumental 1:55 passage just seems a little unneeded in my opinion, especially with its placement being more towards the conclusion of the album. But, I could see this being used as a really cool live intro for future performances, and even with its odd location in the track listing, it still serves as an interesting soundscape that further builds on the ‘cinematic’ feel I mentioned earlier. We have a dire need for more Nicole Dollanganger songs in Netflix originals, films, and other pieces of visual media alike. As she has proven with her live act in the past, much of Nicole’s music ties quite closely with a theatrical, visual element, after all.

A great way to start the new year, Married in Mount Airy is one I’d absolutely recommend any and all fans of Nicole Dollanganger to check out immediately! But, if you are unfamiliar with her work up to this point and wonder where you should start? I’d say still probably just start here, too! Folky, country-esque instrumentals crossed in with muffled, pounding, almost industrial-style electronics, as well as a plethora of ambient soundscapes to boot – This record has all the bases covered in terms of hypnotic, ethereal appeal. Take this record on your Walkman CD player to the next gothy picnic you and your partner have by the cemetery! Well done, Nicole, very well done indeed.