After their double-feature album closing 2017, Deer Tick are now back with a new work, released on February 1st. Mayonnaise puts together brand new songs and studio versions of covers previously performed live. On the top of that, there are also retakes of a few tracks from Deer Tick Vol. I.
The preceding idea of juxtaposing and simultaneously putting out an acoustic and an electric side of the moon was interesting, such as the outcome. Deer Tick Vol. I and II arrived as two separate song-sets and worlds, both of them possible and solid. They stay true to the band’s fundamentals in different ways, the album’s covers depicting the classic simplicity of ketchup and mustard. Then came the third genuine condiment.
Mayonnaise is dialectically curious with its blend of own-new, someone else’s revisited and personal replay, but it is also structurally flimsy. The songs look like a few close and relatively appealing islands, visited one by one. Unfortunately, swimming seems a privilege for locals and the connection bridges shake a bit.
The brand-new creations offer remarkable highlights, while keeping up with the distinctive Deer Tick sound. “Hey! Yeah!” could be part of their great early albums, with its perfect formula of involving alt-americana fast guitar and crinkly vocals. Then, “Strange Awful Feeling” adds-on some lyrical depth to this brilliant, bashful folk.
The covers, on the other end, are fine picks and open audacious routes of harmonization via the band’s action. Imagine linking two continents with dots, the rough energy of The Pogues with the sophistication of The Velvet Underground. Both “White City” and “Pale Blue Eyes” are well-transposed but, if the grandiose originals peek out, it is not the best sign. Under another perspective, “Too sensitive for this world” and “Run Of The Mill” are sure gems which, in a studio album, lose their immediate connection. In other words, they surrender the unique moment when the band could make them part of their stage.
The tracks reproducing the band’s recent work and its partial reinvention are a refined sort of connective tissue, but this may look like a demotion. “End of the World” and “Limp Right Back” were sequential steps in Deer Tick Vol. I, here they part ways. The slightly shorter version of “Doomed From the Start” is still a valuable piece, albeit rushed in its finale.
In sum, with Mayonnaise Deer Tick make a move in the opposite direction from the previous double record. This compiling effort, trying to condense different dimensions of their present self as a band, represents a vivid process but not an unforgettable outcome. The pleasant material, in the larger part of good quality, shows some context gaps and could have possibly represented the bulk for three different works. Ranch and Vinegar, where are you?