When listening to Mylets’ collection of remastered EPs, Retcon, it is easy to be impressed without even considering how the music actually sounds. Teenager Henry Kohen singlehandedly creates every aspect of the loop-based rock, singing, playing guitar and mixing in the occasional synth or percussion sample to round things out. Kohen’s youth and multitasking abilities are feats in and of themselves, but Retcon is ultimately a successful record because the songs are just really good.
Opener “Seven Diamonds Plus One” offers a good taste of what’s to come on the rest of the LP. There is a faint Animal Collective influence with Kohen’s Avey Tare-like scream blending with increasingly complex loops of guitar. There is sparse drumming to provide rhythm, but the real focus is on the songwriting and the interplay between repeating riffs. This style is present for most of the record and it’s impressive that, despite the eccentric and intricate nature of the music, Kohen has developed a strong, core sound.
There are plenty of changes to the formula though, and the first example is “Hungover Tehran.” The track is almost shockingly catchy, with an absolutely delightful guitar lead. It creates a warm and slightly mechanical hook and is complemented well by more restrained vocals. Eventually, the song explodes into a swirl of incredibly technical guitar playing and tortured screams; then it comes full circle, mixing the two halves of the song into one stunning finale. The track is directly followed by “Daniel Victory Jones” and, despite lacking vocals entirely, the two songs prove to be very similar in that they are surprisingly infectious creations. “Daniel Victory Jones” achieves this through a blend of spacey, distorted guitars that act as a backdrop for a less structured, but equally catchy, lead.
While Retcon does boast a certain quirky pop sensibility, it also succeeds when going in a more aggressive direction. “Easy 80s” dynamically builds and releases tension so much that it almost feels like an entirely post-hardcore track, but the most prominent guitar lick also displays a metal influence. This may sound strange even by this album’s standards, but everything works out. More mellow instrumental loops that are lower in the mix combine with various keys, and this helps balance out the track overall. The end product is an absolutely fascinating backdrop for some muted but passionate vocals.
Ultimately, Retcon proves to be an interesting and thoroughly enjoyable record. The individual songs are all unique, but there is a strong sense of consistency throughout. The songwriting is unconventional and complex, but many tracks still manage to be downright catchy. The album is great by itself, and, when you consider it’s just the work of one teenager, it’s simply stunning.