The Most Serene Republic – Pre Serene: Thee Oneironauts
Rarities records can be a hit or miss. Sometimes the material can be too obscure (or rough) that it hardly resembles the band you’ve grown to like. Other times, it shows a whole different aspect of a band you thought you’d knew.
Pre Serene: Thee Oneironauts is the latter, not the former. Consisting of most of the tracks that The Most Serene Republic recorded before forming as band proper, this collection of tracks finds them experiment with drum machines, sweet lyrics and moments of early brilliance.
‘Not even the Earth’s gravitational pull can bring us down’ mixes a wistful piano with a frantic (almost drum n bass) pace while a disembodied voice (reverberating in the distance) sings soothingly. ‘Zoltar speaks’ sports that “indie keyboard” that has been ubiquitous in quite a few bands. The song is darn catchy and, yes, it seems to be related to a certain Tom Hanks film.
‘St. Germain’ is a real gem. It might sound very unpolished, but whatever technical flaws might be (and I would’ve be hard pressed to find them) lying here can be forgotten about it. The landscape the song paints, with that sustained note in the back (a reverberated keyboard? Sounds very droney) and lyrics as cool as “When I was five / I’d married you twice /once in English / the other with subtitles /close-captioned for the hearing impaired”. It’s a very cuddly song and pretty much the stand out point.
‘The breath’ follows ‘St. Germain’ ‘s example in a more defined manner, the band feels like it’s finding its footing and the song really gels together. ‘Clara bow’, on the other hand, seems to be more of a purer electronica track. Nothing wrong with that, but it is the odd duckling and your mileage might vary with this one.
‘Home of the rebels’, ah, the rain sample adds a whole layer of charm to the acoustic and shaker combo. It’s a nice song to say goodbye to this collection of odds and ends.
It’s obvious that it does sound different to what The Most Serene Republic is today. This is the foundations of the band, the first steps they were taking to become what they are today: a very solid indie rock band. You can get a few whiffs of the frantic, rocking pace of gems like ‘Sherry and her butterfly net’ in a song like ‘St. Germain’, which sounds a little rough but full of feelings (love that dreamy sound in the back. Between quite a few generous servings of electronic ambients and pop sensibilities, a very honest band is developing wings that will show in a few records (Population for me).