May 26, 2015

LP: Totally Mild - Down Time

Totally Mild's Down Time is rock music for introverts.

When I'm not selling my soul one cup of bourgeois coffee at a time, I’m usually ensconced in front of my laptop making weird beats or being a goof with my best friend, Jae, and our cat. Occasionally I find myself at a 27-hour German Electro party or themed queer dance, but most of the time I feel content at home. Needless to say I am an introvert. My Myers-Briggs confirms this, although I can’t help but speculate that being alone is my own active choice because the outside world is so scary. Exit my dream world and I’m suddenly in a place where daily micro-aggressions, misogyny, and racism are the norm. Listening to Totally Mild’s Down Time with it’s subdued bitter lyrics and dreamy guitar reminds me of the classic trajectory for the reclusive: take a step outside, get overwhelmed, retreat, repeat.

Down Time is rock music for introverts. Orchestrating songs that are rich in minor chords and slow-moving guitar riffs, Totally Mild is clearly no novice to sentimentality. Vocalist Elizabeth Mitchell’s vocals drift over each track in airy revelation while evoking a melancholy to match. In the opening track “Christa”, Mitchell sings, “Hang me by my head / I’m already dead / It doesn’t matter what you do / It only matters who you do it with.” Lyrics coded with disappointment accompanying the overall sweet sonic personality of the LP create a joyous mergence for shy people everywhere. You don’t need to scream or even sound mean to be angry. You can still be soft. “The Next Day” begins with Mitchell’s bare voice calling, “I’m in bed / and I never want to go outside again.” A low-end synth playfully swells around the vocals cradling every word. Totally Mild usually stick to the drum-bass-lead guitar-rhythm guitar convention of rock music, yet when they choose to include synth and horn the lyrics escalate in importance. “All the drink helped me do a lot of things I said I never would,” Mitchell chimes over sparse synth. Down Time is emotional, but doesn’t project pain onto the listener. It eases us introverts and emotionally reticent into introspection. Being loud and angry is good; Totally Mild shows us that a soft fury can bear the same weight.


Listen to Totally Mild on Soundcloud.

Rachel Ishikawa performs solo as Shakai Mondai, and as 1/5 of the band Peaks. She's trying to show bad cat Andie how to love.