Album Review: Marci – Marci

[Arbutus; 2022]

Marta Cikojevic joined the band TOPS in 2017 on keys and strengthened their already well-defined sound. Fast-forward five years and we have her debut solo album as Marci, a collection of self-described “sexy smooth peppy pop music”. 

Working with TOPS bandmate David Carriere (as well as Jane Penny on backing vocals), TOPS’ 80s power-pop pastiche is unsurprisingly present throughout Marci. Safe to say, if you’re not a fan of TOPS, you’ll probably want to pass on this one. But as I noted in my Empty Seats review, TOPS are fucking great, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

Buoyed by strong singles, Marci is cheeky enough to let any listener in on the fun. Check the videos – I particularly like the “Entertainment” visualizer in which she’s a couple inches from kissing the camera for three minutes. When the line “Do you get off on my type / Or maybe it’s the saxophone?” is followed by an actual saxophone melody, something sultry becomes funny. It’s one of the best moments on an album that, while not breaking new ground, embraces the fun of its influences to a palpable degree.

To wit: “Immaterial Girl” (the title alone should ring a bell) has a VHS-quality of Marci in gaudy, glittery outfits, winking at the camera. Sexy, yes, but goofy enough to feel like something you and your friends could make over a summer. The song itself is one of Marci’s strongest, with an appropriate placement as the second track after the palate-cleansing “All of Your Love”.

Like any good pop album, though, Marci is more than its singles. In its back half are standout songs like “Play By Play”, which captures a warm Steely Dan groove, and “Electricity”, which has a bopping chorus and cute keyboard solo to boot. “BB I Would Die” closes things out on a strong note, literally – the last thing we hear is the resonant Rhodes echoing the chorus’s melody.

Marci’s symbol, as seen on the album cover and at the end of her music videos, is a Rorschach blot-like M in the shape of a butterfly. It’s a sleek insignia for an appropriately stylish artist, one whose album feels like something between a full-fledged debut and another record in the TOPS discography. Either way, it’s something I’d like to see more of.