A great pop record is like a great friend: an intimate confidante, a shoulder to cry on, and a partner in crime when you’re ready to get dolled up and dance the pain away under the disco ball (or in front of your bedroom mirror.) That’s what you’ll find on MARCI, the solo debut from Marta Cikojevic of Montreal soft-rock group TOPS, who steps out on her own with a collection of self-assured synth pop songs brimming with sincerity. “I wanted to make people happy. I wanted to make people feel like they could dance even when there was negativity,” Cikojevic says.
The confidence of MARCI belies the fact that Cikojevic has never formally written songs before, though she’s been making up songs since her childhood in rural Ontario, when she would seek out secret spots to practice singing and record herself into a handheld recorder, and has been playing keyboards in TOPS since 2017. To make MARCI, Cikojevic collaborated with her TOPS bandmate David Carriere, describing him as “a great pop writer” who shared her vision.
Carrierre and Cikojevic approached MARCI with the idea that they wanted to craft hits—catchy and danceable, but emotionally honest and down-to-earth. The record was put together over the course of a year in a Montreal apartment reminiscent of a 1993 pawnshop, full of synthesizers and obscure instruments dating back to the 1980s. The songs were written on Rhodes and bass and then fleshed out with harmonies, guitars, samplers, and FM and analogue synthesizers. The result is music that touches on musical hallmarks of hit songs of the past, but still sounds sharply futuristic. Along with Carrierre and Cikojevic, MARCI features Mitch Davis, Rene Wilson, and Austin Tufts (Braids) on drums, and Chloé Soldevila (Anemone), Adam Byczkowski (Better Person), and Jane Penny (TOPS) on backing vocals.
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