If you’re prone to overthinking at all, you probably spent the past year in lockdown (with nowhere to go and no one to see to distract you) doing a lot of brooding and obsessing over basically everything. Well, so did I M U R, only they were doing it in a recording studio.
My Molecules is the fourth project (with two albums and one EP under their belt) by the self-proclaimed “genre-bending make-out music” trio, made up of lead vocalist Jenny Lea, producer/guitarist Mikey J. Blige, and producer/multi-instrumentalist Amine Bouzaher. Influenced by Lea’s past with substance abuse, her exploration in sexuality, and a near-death experience, My Molecules is ferocious, candid, and shockingly intimate.
Sitting down with the Straight over Zoom call in I M U R’s North Vancouver recording studio, Lea says the album felt a lot like taking “moral inventory.”
“I think our past albums have also been pretty self-aware and introspective, but I do feel that the pandemic shifted things to a different level,” Lea says. “I think that we all had to spend a lot of time, just like the rest of the world, kind of sorting our own shit out.”
The band’s members had been separated for four months due to COVID-19 (the longest they’d been apart in five years), so by the time they met back up in the summer—in the new recording studio Blige had built in his basement—the band was not surprisingly “juiced up” with inspiration. “When we came back, everybody had these wild new perspectives,” Blige says. “It was like we were completely new people.”
Instigated by the isolation of the pandemic, My Molecules explores every side of Lea’s past, layering textured beats and sultry harmonies with themes of grief, relationships, and addiction colouring the lyrics.
Tracks like “Sad Girls Club” explore the deep lows felt in insecurity, opening with the desperate confessional lyrics: “I got issues that I fight I lose/Caught in my feelings, I try, but not dealing/Never learned to cope, so I turn to dope/I fall from the reeling, stuck watching the ceiling/I am paralyzed. Is this my demise?” The song ends with a sad understanding: “Only a matter of time/You’ll turn around and realize I’m too much for you /Better off without.”
Then there’s the ferociously passionate “Worst Behaviour” in which the song introduces a character who not only owns up to their bad habits actively decides to give into them. Built around long, low piano keys played slow to build tension, and a punchy beat, the track features lyrics like: “They’re testing my patience/I’m getting frustrated, ready to brawl Fuck it, I’m shameless, I’m on my worst behaviour.” “Worst Behaviour” features alt-pop artist Mauvey, who spits out the last verse through a rap, making an already wicked track inspire a feels-so-good-to-be-bad feeling in the listener.
Other standouts include the addictive love anthem “Case of You” and “Himme Right,” the sexiest track on the album bursting with harmonizing, vibrating voice lines and explicit lyrics. Then there's the band’s favourite, “Spent,” which was according to the Blige “the one that produced the most tears” in the recording studio.
Lyrics that read like page after page of diary entries, accompanied by the album's heavy bass, layers of smooth harmonies, and purring synth, create a cinematic ambiance to My Molecules. I M U R has created a vibe that works equally as well to set a mood in the bedroom as it does to cry in your car.
The album, which is sure to find a place in summer night driving playlists and nightclubs alike, is a masterpiece of self-reflection. Each track is so clearly forged from both personal and musical discovery, that it’s hard to imagine what My Molecules would sound like if the band hadn’t put their all into the album.
“It’s our whole heart,” Lea says. “There’s nothing less than our whole heart that’s into this.”