A Brooklyn-based, Minnesota-native, Andy Cook has appeared on these pages previously, most recently in 2021 around the release of his excellently titled pandemic-influenced EP, Stuff I Made at Home While Other People Made Stuff at Home & The World Was Falling Apart But We’re Putting It Back Together. Prior to that Andy was working alongside Al Church, Megan Mahoney (Boyish, Early Eyes), Jeremy Ylvisaker (Andrew Bird, Bon Iver, Jenny Lewis) and Zach Brose, on their new band Marathoner. Recorded at Zoo School Studio in Northwestern Wisconsin back in February 2020, and premiering here today, the band’s self-titled EP has been a long time coming.
Each of the four tracks on the EP is accompanied by a video created from snippets of old film from Andy’s mum’s family vacations in the 1960s, adding a certain nostalgia to a record that actually sounds contrastingly fresh. The record opens with the strutting angularity of Didn’t Think, Andy and Megan sharing vocal duties as they play out a shared sense of relationships gone wrong, “I can’t help falling in love, I know it’s not for me, but I won’t just leave it here”. From there the record slides into its most obviously retro moment, Irregular Heartbeat, a six minute opus resplendent with guitars twanging like The Four Seasons. Andy’s downbeat vocal takes the track to Timber Timbre levels of creepy All-American Diner music, as he sings, “I used to be anything I wanted to be”, with the weight of newfound compromise seeming to lie heavy on his soul.
The stand-out moment here is Let Go, where stompy percussion booms around arpeggiated guitars and Andy’s easy, effortlessly cool vocals swagger like Kevin Morby or Hamilton Leithauser. The whole track builds to a swirling crescendo before breaking down to almost nothing and then thrillingly roaring back into life again. The record closes with Adolescence in 2020, a wiry slice of early-noughties Brooklyn-cool, nodding to the urgency of Is This It-era The Strokes and the glam flourish of Television, that will have anyone who lived through the indie-boom thinking of Converse, skinny jeans and failed dancefloor romances.
It might have arrived considerably later than originally planned, yet it feels undeniably worth the wait, capturing the essence of the time in which it was born yet still resonating in the very different world in which it debuts. Marathoner might only just have started their race, but they already look like winners to me.
Marathoner EP is out now. For more information on Marathoner visit https://www.marathonerband.rocks/.