Out of all the “___ positivity” movements going around right now, death positivity probably isn’t one many people have seen on their social media feeds.
But that’s the crusade of MXMS (short for Me and My Shadow), the funeral-pop band that blends gothic (and a tad morbid) themes with the basic structures of pop music. The bi-coastal duo’s new tune, “I Revenge,” is a single bound to either spread icy chills up your backbone or arouse some serious rage. While the theme is rather typical for music these days — a breakup gone murderous — “I Revenge” guts generic pop beats with a dirge-y tempo and ravenous taste for the macabre.
But don’t get the tune confused with the pastel darkness of Melanie Martinez and Twenty-One Pilots. Both singer Ariel Levitan and keyboardist Jeremy Dawson instead cite everything from Kendrick Lamar to Johnny Cash and Lush as their influences. Fiona Apple in particular jumps out as a strong source of inspiration, one that you can hear in the unfettering confidence of Levitan’s vocals.
An element of gloom traces throughout the duo’s work, almost as a prerequisite. Even the nature of the pair’s relationship formed out of an immediate connection in 2013 based on common links in the “trauma and tragedy” of their personal lives. From those same experiences, they spin alt-pop that’s equal parts hypnotic and haunting.
“Being ‘death positive’ means that you take the negative power, the power of fear, away from death,” MXMS tell us. “No one knows what is going to happen to us when we leave these bodies, which is exciting, not horrible and scary. The ‘darkness’ around death is beautiful art that we exploit in our music, but we don’t actually feel terrified or sad about the idea of leaving here. We except and embrace that death is part of life and something we don’t have control over.”
Here in particular, “I Revenge” fleshes out the vicious vengeance of Levitan towards her unfaithful partner, complete with potent cracks in her stern vocals and gothic elements dripping in every verse.
“Father, forgive me, I have sinned” Levitan bellows grimly on the chorus — although something tells us her remorse isn’t all that grand.