Word of the Day
BotCave Records, 2020
Review By Kent Manthie
This second album by Mark-Allen Piccolo, Word of the Day, is another winning “lotto pick”. At least that’s the way it came to me – even on the first listen, which doesn’t always click with other albums I end up getting into if at all.
The opener, “Outside In” is an ethereal, soft, dreamy layered cake; it just awaits the first hungry eye to cut a slice from it.
One thing I picked up right away is that the song structures are not throw-away simple pop stuff. Besides being an album full of melancholy yet a beautiful set of haunting melodies crafted until they were oh-so-perfect, or at least just right. The first three songs are the ones that really reeled me in, tune-wise. “Outside In”, “Drive Away” and “Under the Cherry Tree” have this dreamy sonic swirl that leaves your head swimming in an ocean of fuzz. But what sort of interrupts this chain is “Favorite Conspiracy”. Not that it’s a jarring change of pace from sweet, soft interludes, but a simple acoustic tune which borders on the folk-ish. No, it’s not about imagined “world puppet string masters” (Illuminati, the CFR, Trilateral Commission, International Bankers, take your pick), it’s more of a love song, borne by lines such as “You’re my favorite deep conspiracy”. Obviously playing on the in-fashion conspiracy-minded (or lack of mind) types who may think they’re in for some secret message from a beacon of “truth”. But, after that’s over with, we get back to a more introspective (not to say “Favorite Conspiracy” can’t be considered “introspective”, I just mean it seemed a little incongruous with the theme of the rest of the album, music-wise, that is. Next comes “MOPUS2” a sparse, yet, not sparse meditation.
Not to take you through song after song, I just want to put in that “Soledad” is a flowery paean to “Desirée”. From there, Word of the Day continues to please in an album that seems to be such a personal document it almost seems voyeuristic to take pleasure in the places beyond the mere surface of the songs. But that just can’t be helped. Obviously this is no “private diary”; it’s an album made for as many people as possible to enjoy (one hopes) and get into in their own way. After “Soledad” things do get a little more varied but never to a point that changes the album from what it is all about to just an album that happens to be well-produced, well-crafted, pithy and dreamy (have I mentioned dreamy?) Some may call this a “concept album” which I think is going a little too far, but there’s definitely a similarity to the feelings expressed in the songs. Up until the last cut, the 52 second, “Betwixt Soledad”, the album sends a message, nay, a feeling of ethereal beauty that has a dab of melancholia behind it, at least in certain places (unlike, say, the “up” tune, “Yer Goin’ Up”.
Try this if you are caught up in the wonderful world of shoegaze/beautiful sadness, heart-on-ones-sleeve, cry-inducing stuff, i.e., Radiohead, Owen, American Music Club or even Jeff Buckley’s all-too-brief career. –KM.