“Space Pilot,” the new release by The Memory Fades, is the soundtrack behind a mythical four-reel biopic, a movie that opens on a young man ready to rock and closes on the inactive Instagram account of the band that had more promise than success, the link in bio pointing to a Bandcamp page where the group’s EP still hopefully awaits its initial download. The script describes, not the scenes themselves, but the feelings that remain long after the dialog has been forgotten. “Space Pilot” peaks at its most introspective moments; acoustic guitars create a sepia-tinted backdrop as the vocals echo down a long-remembered corridor.
Our movie fires to life with the psychedelic infusion of “Space Pilot.”A muscle car rockets down an open road fuelled only by a shot glass full of our own youthful adrenaline as the stereo blasts “Eight Miles High,” the unreleased cover version played by The Amboy Dukes. The future is now, the time to seek stardom – in California or in the club around the corner – was yesterday: “now is the time to be alive / because tomorrow may never arrive.”
“Listening to the Marychain” pauses for a moment of folksy reverie, recalling the distorted guitars of a favorite band and the hours spent thumbing through the album art and imagining “the one dressed in black is me.” We never made it to California, but we convince ourselves that it’s okay. “Rain rarely falls in California / that’s not the place for me.” Still, we have a good band, the songs arrive easily, and on a good night we sound just like our heroes.
“Run Away” is a standout track, hitting the little-known sweet spot between shoegaze, sixties pop, and country. Life intrudes on our dreams as relationships end and futures narrow: “if you want to say goodbye to me / well that’s all right let my dreams just shatter.” We load the third reel of our drama, the scenes in which things get complicated and the bass player leaves to take a steady job.
“Space Pilot” ends with the bittersweet nostalgia of “Big Pop Stars.” The band didn’t set the world afire; the daily routine lacks inspiration and the songs no longer flow from the guitar as if the music was creating itself. But it was a good band, our first, the one that had the most fun because it was all new and wonderful, the one that led to wherever we are today and wherever we will be tomorrow. “You don’t want to hear all this stuff / about another bunch of wannabes / but that was my first band / and they meant a whole lot to me.”
The Memory Fades is a solo project created by Stephen Maughan, previously of Kosmonaut and Bulldozer Crash. “Space Pilot” is the second four-track EP from The Memory Fades; we had the pleasure of reviewing their previous release, “She Loves the Birds,” earlier this year. On his Bandcamp page Stephen tells us, “His previous bands have had varying degrees of very little or no success at all, but he enjoys writing songs and making music and is quite happy to be just a never was.” Thus the credits roll on our summer movie, and we leave the theater with the knowledge that our hero has reached a level of success – the success found only in happiness – that few of us can honestly claim.