Electropop/indie/pop artist Mpathy (real name Mikael Hirsch), hailing from Boston, is also aptly enough, a scientist. He describes his songwriting process as similar to the way he plans his experiments. Songs first come swirling into his consciousness amidst a flurry of notes and sounds, forcing him to eventually develop a procedure through which he moves from an idea to a finished product.
Hirsch says that his style is inspired by his love for artists like Beck, R.E.M., and Sigur Ros, but there are also some similarities between Golden Boy’s three tracks and the early years of the Pet Shop Boys. Set to be released later this month, Mpathy provides vocals, guitars, bass, piano, synthesizer, drums, violin, and clarinet on this EP. He only got a little help from Kim Holt (lead and background vocals, violin), Robert Beal (guitar, bass), and Jarrett (drums).
The lead single, an easy listening song with light, cheerful, almost nasal vocals, is titled “The Golden Boy”, an electropop anthem based on night terrors that kept the artist awake when he was younger. There is a lightness that borders on cheeriness that undermines the subject it covers, keeping it from crossing over to the darker side one would expect from night terrors.
Similarly, the lyrics make it a little hard to take the topic seriously: “Golden boy shares his space in my dreams/And reveals to me my inner fears”, and “I wake up in a sweat/From what he reveals.” The only thing remotely ominous is the track’s almost deliberate, intense electronic beat. Perhaps this is on purpose; no doubt not many would take a golden boy’s darkness seriously.
“Unemployment” is driven by three main elements. The first is simple piano runs, ones that are quite easy to play and which are almost timidly plucked. The second is a mid-tempo electronic beat that sounds at times almost muffled. The third is the restrained vocals. The overall effect is one of subdued sharing; one can almost see the discouragement that would accompany the loneliness described by the lyrics.
There are also three major elements to “Dangerous Love”. There’s an acoustic guitar-driven section framing Mpathy’s vocals, an almost metal rock break (the harshness of which contrasts with the soft, breathy female vocals), and a long, instrumental, electronic dance bridge. These three elements are placed one after the other and repeated a couple of times throughout the track, creating a dissonant, confusing song whose final message seems rather unclear.