Mark Fredson Crafts His Own Form of Bummer Pop with Infectious Solo Debut ‘Going to the Movies’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Nashville-based artist Mark Fredson is hardly a household name, but he has racked up some notable credentials over the last decade. He spent 10 years as the front man of Washington by way of Nashville rock outfit the Lonely H before branching off as a songwriter, pianist and producer who has collaborated with the likes of Margo Price, Erin Rae and Joshua Hedley to name a few. Now Fredson has stepped back into the spotlight with his debut solo album Going to the Movies.

Those who may be familiar with his work in the Lonely H will find Fredson embracing a completely different sound. Here he takes on the role of multi-instrumentalist, engineer, producer and sole creative force, and Going to the Movies is quite literally “bedroom pop,” to use a clichéd term, and the results are more like “bummer pop” (in a good way). The album opens on a strong note with “Bitchin’ Summer,” a Beach Boys-esque song with a touch of melancholic longing that meanders along at the laid back pace of a summer day and feels especially poignant when we are all stuck inside and aching for any form of care-free fun. Summer continues to be a theme on the slowed down blue-eyed soul of “Come Find Me (If There’s Anything I Can Do),” which shines with intimate and groovy synth and a subtle guitar solo. 70s R&B and soul is clearly a big influence on Fredson, and he isn’t afraid to lay down the charm on songs like “R U In It?,” a saccharine tale of dating in the modern era that oozes sensuality with multi-track harmonies and a brassy synth sound. Elsewhere, we can hear the influence of piano rockers like Billy Joel on songs like the 80s cool of “To The Moonlight,” and Warren Zevon on the darkly humorous “Hole Up and Die.”

While Fredson definitely has a soft spot for slow and tender piano songs like “Thoughts on Prayers” – a mournful song that offers its pointed yet relatable political commentary on our current state of affairs as its protagonist seeks escapism by going to the movies – he also knows how to make more upbeat, danceable music. “Casual and Calculated,” with its feisty beat and dreamy guitar, is an infectious morsel of electro funk, and the sexy sax solo-driven “Loud and Clear” is a slow-building, bouncy tune that is equal parts Prince and John Hughes movie soundtrack.

The album closes with the sweeping soft-rock ballad “Only The Best (From This Point On),” which is perhaps the peak of Fredson’s tongue-in-cheek cheesiness, complete with Phil Collins-esque drum machine breakdowns. Though the song isn’t one of the album’s high points, it does manage to bring it to a triumphant close and showcase Fredson’s willingness to venture into seemingly any style of music. This adventurous musical sprit makes Going to the Movies a fun and intriguing collection of pop songs about bumming out that get you excited to see what direction Fredson will take next.

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