Let me just contain my excitement for a moment…
Meg & Dia just dropped a surprise album — their first in eight years — and yeah, of course I had to write about it.
Eight years later and almost a whole decade since we last saw this band onstage together, the indie-rock sister duo has come out of their hiatus — and they seem to be stronger than ever.
Sisters Meg and Dia Frampton have just hit the road again this summer for a seeming “reunion tour” to celebrate the beloved pop/punk music festival that is Vans Warped Tour, playing for the festival’s 25th-year anniversary and final tour ever, in three cities: Cleveland, OH, Atlantic City, NJ and Mountain View, CA just last weekend.
The festival, which had jumpstarted the career of these doe-eyed sisters at just the ages of 21 and 19, respectively, was a true celebration and comeback for the band, who hadn’t released any music or played a show in almost eight years.
Late last night, Meg & Dia dropped a surprise album happysad on Spotify via Pure Noise Records, free to stream for all listeners — and it is a true bop.
A very modern synth pop record complete with catchy hooks and lead singer Dia Frampton’s signature breathy, warm and raspy voice, happysad feels like a very mature album. From sisters who had been making music since their teens, their tight production, highly textured instrumentation — from synthy drumbeats, groovy bass lines, funky guitar riffs, and very thoughtful electronic beats — you can feel the pure energy and excitement of their reunion oozing out through their music.
The album almost feels like a complete collection of all their individual sounds experimented with, from solo projects and beyond, into one.
Opener “American Spirit”, full with its airy synths and cinematic-like chimes, washes over you in a cool and captivating way. As the beat drops, Dia’s breathy voice comes in and you’re immediately drawn in. Her voice carries a sense of conviction as she tells the story of searching for, perhaps, reason and faith in the American way of life.
“I won’t stop searching till I find it / Lost like memories when I was a kid,” she recites.
“I got that American Spirit
It’s searching for what I can’t find
I’m looking in holy rivers
I pray that she’ll show me a sign”
The lyrics are classic Meg & Dia songwriting. A sense of awareness, bitterness towards the world, humanity and the human condition. These girls never like to sugarcoat the truth. Lightly-plucked funky guitars play in the background as synth pop drumbeats drive the song along. The overall feel of this opener is rather melodic and pensive, deep in thought but feels oh so cool with the dreamy feel… I’m gushing at just how cool this track feels to my earbuds.
For longtime listeners of Meg & Dia, the acoustic-friendly, punk rock charged angst and indie rock sound familiar to Meg & Dia can be felt through this fifth studio album. But told through the lens of new pop electronics and a higher sense of self-awareness to their songwriting, Meg & Dia sound amazing through this record, and a clean listen of the album shows how much they’ve grown.
Dia’s voice soars with a particular clarity as she sings anthems of insecurities in love (“I say, I’m a wreck / I’m a f**king mess) to a sweet dance-track inspired chorus (“You say come here my koala / Let me hold you like I oughta”) in “Koala.” Songs like “Disctraction” start off with cool acoustic guitar riffs to a sweeping airy chorus (and did I hear a flute in there?!). “Better at Being Young” has a cool electric guitar and upbeat drumbeats that layer as the song goes on.
“Happy” is a song that just makes you want to vibe and dance along as Dia’s voice cruises along through a retro filter, singing, “Floating on my feet / I taste the sugar on my tongue / Now that I’m happy / I’m ready to love someone.” Its cool funky bass line, 80s synth-powered guitar and trickling guitar riffs are fun (and for longtime listeners, hearing these girls sing about feeling happy and positive is a refreshing thing).
The production through this record is so pleasant to the ears as so many sounds come to surprise through each song, yet fit so well together.
This record feels like a rebirth for Meg & Dia. From years of finding their way on their own — being apart (Dia’s ventures into acting and solo work) and through different ventures (Meg’s coffee shop business) — Meg & Dia seems to find their way back through music. The strength felt through this album, both from a technical standpoint (that amazing production) and as artists (lyrics telling of having faith in life’s unwavering struggles), show that they (seem to) have come to a place of peace with themselves.
…and that’s just so damn exciting (coming from your favorite listener who was once a 12-years old kid entirely inspired by these girls #TheMegAndDiaStory).
Who knows what’s to come from Meg & Dia next, but with a rebirth like this, we can only expect so much more.
You can catch them playing a few dates during this summer’s inaugural Rockstar Disrupt Festival throughout the weekend.
Update 7/26/19: The girls have announced a September tour celebrating the release of “Happysad” at a few dates following their summer festival run at Vans Warped Tour and Rockstar Disrupt. Tickets are on sale now.
And, go listen to that happysad, now.