In the humid foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, a lover cracks an egg against a china rim and searches its gloss for meaning. Clocks tick in reverse; phones ring out unanswered; Trojan horses arrive at the gates of the human heart and debts are repaid in gold dental fillings. Red-leather-clad and pitchfork-wielding in a playful nod to Grant Wood’s celebrated painting of 1930, Mattiel’s Atina Mattiel Brown and Jonah Swilley proffer songs which ponder the American everyday of the 2020s, teeth to the flesh of a tender Georgia peach as they serve up an album tasting more like home than ever before.
Georgia Gothic, a magic third in Mattiel’s run of full-length albums, was shaped in the quiet seclusion of a woodland cabin in the north of the Atlanta duo’s mother-state; “Some faraway place that just Jonah and I could go where there would be no distractions, nothing else going on, and we could turn everything off and only focus on writing songs”, reflects Brown. Where 2017’s self-titled debut and its 2019 follow-up Satis Factory were written with what Swilley refers to as a “hands-off” approach — he arranging the music and Brown the lyrics and vocals, the two working largely separately — the making of Georgia Gothic was, for the first time, a truly collaborative undertaking. “This was the first time we made a point to just be together and work out ideas in the same room. That was the initial intention … it was about learning what each other wanted to accomplish on a sonic level, and then just trying different things out” Swilley continues. “Everything happened backwards. Normally, you’d have friends that make a band … with us, we started making music from the jump, and then became homies.”