Starring MH dropped a new EP, Black Pink and Red, on Feb. 1 and it provides a colorful soundtrack to some formative years.
Think about life in your 20s. Was it marked by naive romance? Post-grad anxiety and depression? Thrilling experiences and friendships? It mirrors many of those experiences.
Black Pink and Red consists of five songs, each with Lou Reed-esque vocals and a garage rock feel. The tracks on the EP vary in sound, with some evoking upbeat punk similar to the Ramones while others take on a slower ’70s classic rock vibe. Throughout however, Starring MH’s lyrical style creates an amusing and endearing take on modern aspects of young love while stumbling through early adulthood.
Written while songwriter Matt Hanley was living in Charleston, tracks like “I Dig Marie,” “Black Pink and Red,” and “I Still Go On” are filled with memories of his time here. Namely, surfing on Folly, coworkers he had on King Street, mid-20s depression, and taking his bike for a ride downtown. While all the tracks are relatable, “I Still Go On” encapsulates the feelings of an overextended college student or young professional. The song is slower and sleepy, fitting the honest, funny lyrics about physical and emotional exhaustion, paying your college institution way to much money to only have had made two friends.
Hanley explains that the tracks on this EP were originally written for a musical about — you guessed it — the life and times of a 20-something romantic living in Charleston and learning about life. However, he tabled the project due to a lack of musical experience. It is no surprise that Hanley returned to this project in 2020 once he gained that musical knowledge because, as he put it, “my time in Charleston made a big impact on how I see the world. I learned the value of variety” which he defines as “getting out and seeing and hearing different things.”
Now in New York, Starring MH is a rock ‘n’ roll experiment working on a concept album for his musical Bedroom Guys, which Black Pink and Red was born out of. This EP was recorded with the Mozart Street band and features Aleksi Champagne on the violin.