If the indie genre was a supermarket, Makeup Girl would be the off-brand cereal that expired two years ago. Yes, Frosted Fakes may be cheaper than the real deal, but people trust their Frosted Flakes and are happy to pay twenty cents more for quality that they can count on. Plus, those Frosted Fakes have been sitting on that shelf for way too long to still be edible - they don’t have a chance. And if mom or dad comes home with a big box of Frosted Fakes, little Jimmy is going to be pissed. He wants his name brand Frosted Flakes and will accept nothing less. He’s not going to waste his one sugary breakfast for the week on an inferior product.
What can make knockoff items appealing, though, is when they are offer something different than the original. Just making a watered-down version of something successful is never a marvel or a feat; and that’s exactly what Makeup Girl does.
On their recent Something New EP, the Washington D.C. natives reel out predictable song structures, basic chord loops, and cliched lyrics. Makeup Girl is the Frosted Fakes and Mac Demarco and Homeshake are the Frosted Flakes. The wailing, nasal vocals on tracks 3 though 5 blatantly mimic Demarco’s signature inflection. But Makeup Girl’s vocalist lacks the personality that Mac Demarco radiates. Similarly, tracks 1 and 2 copy Homeshake’s simple and clean production method with smooth chords and drums that sound like they were syncopated automatically from a GarageBand stock setting. Very few musicians can pull this off. One thing that makes a successful attempt at incorporating ironically crappy drums is when the other instruments shine effervescently, making it clear that the percussion is intentional. With Makeup Girl, I can’t tell if the drums are ironic or not because the other instruments’ performances are just as dull. For their next project, I hope the band develops more of an identity, takes more risks, and creates a sound of their own.