A Whole New Animal

In the classic scenario, going to see your co-worker’s band is a dicey proposition at-best, especially when that co-worker is the relatively soft-spoken Mary Lynn Gloeckle.

“People I work with come to my shows and are just like, ‘Oh my God…I didn’t know.’” On stage, Mary Lynn bares it all.

And now, on her sophomore full-length album, “My Animal,” she gives you a genuine window into her life, unabashedly putting her exuberance and heartbreak, her altruism and self-loathing on stage, in earnest, for all to see. “One of the things I inherently love about music myself is being in a crowd and being moved by a band—feeling like you’re there with all these people and you’re all understanding what’s happening and you’re all feeling something,” she said. “So I wanted to try and recreate that with this album.”

If you’re a frequent attendee of local shows, you know that Mary Lynn is just as likely to be seen in the crowd, mixing it up with the masses, and her second record teleports you into that crowd, leaving singing along with an invisible legion of imaginary fans. The album’s best songs conjure up the deep emotions that accompany love and personal growth: longing, anxiety, wistfulness, frustration, all while maintaining a level of musical detail and catchiness. It’s pretty pop music with an acidic aftertaste.

The polish of the final product is no accident; the album’s mixing engineer, Bill Moriarty, previously worked with high-profile acts such as Dr. Dog, Man Man and Lotus. Moriarty’s well-seasoned touch gives the songs on “My Animal” a sleek, radio-ready sheen. However, his role as mixing engineer was really only the cherry on top of a sundae long in the works. The primordial origins of the tracks themselves began in the basement three years ago, self-recorded by Mary Lynn and guitarist Joe Camerlengo, producing a rawness underlying the pop sensibility reminiscent of Ty Segal or early Weezer.

“The word I would use is ‘real.’ The vocals are real; they’re not auto-tuned,” Mary Lynn said. “It’s definitely louder and poppier, and more party and a little noisier, but it’s still very real.”

On songs like the upbeat rager “Space” or the poppy headbanger “The Same,” a battery of uniquely distorted, fuzzed-out guitars blasts a counterpoint to Mary Lynn’s crystal-clear vocals.

For this, Carmelengo is to blame (with a Big Muff hardwired into his Strat, for you gear-whizzes out there), a man who has been recording with Mary Lynn for half a decade—after the young uber-fan of his band This is My Suitcase was asked to join the seminal late 2000s band. Meeting Joe was “cooler than being born,” Mary Lynn said. “That was the moment that everything I ever wanted began,” she said. “Because I had always wanted to be in a band, but I was like, ‘I’m way too nerdy, I’m definitely not cool. I don’t know anybody who really understands what I want to do in music.’ So he was the first person I met that understood it,

For example, album highlight “The Break” begins with a sweet and simple vocal melody over piano, before pulsing drums and the drone of feedback warn the listener of the impending chorus. Camerlengo’s guitar explodes onto the track, amply backing up Mary Lynn’s heavy lyrics. “I knew what it was / Just as fast as it wasn’t: A break that makes me wanna die.”

But for all the despair that’s expressed, the song also serves as the album’s turning point, ending on the line, “I loved you so / I’ll let you go,” a simple couplet that encapsulates the inevitable truth, that people keep on moving, no matter what.

“It’s a lot about movement, and about going through something and feeling kind of stuck, but the world’s still spinning around you,” she said. “At the end you’re the same person, but you’ve changed.”

From there, the album explores glimmers of hope, ending on “Animal,” which begins with the words, “You’ll stand still until you won’t.” “I think it’s just that human aspect. For me, I’m incapable of not being myself. I think that everybody’s kind of like that,” she said. “I’ve always been a person who strives to be a real person. I don’t strive to be a person who’s happy one-hundred percent of the time, or perfect in any way. I am what I am, and I think people see that.”

Instead of creating a larger than life persona, Mary Lynn embraces herself. “I’m always going to be a little bit nervous in that moment before I get on stage, but I definitely don’t get as nervous as I used to.”

Story by Jack Lynch, Photos By Collins Laatsch