“But I was too young to know I may not have any second chances.” This line begins one of the choice tracks from Mesita’s latest release, and it stands out poignantly. Not only does it capture Cooley’s emotionally wrought lyrics at their core, it also does a good job of acting as a sort of mantra for what Cooley’s recording and release habits are. XYXY, like the EPs that have preceded it, is an attempt to create an album before draining all the energy out of an idea or thought process and coming to halt. This time round, though, Cooley takes a different route, ditching his guitar-led sound and instead relying on glitch effects and piano.
If anything, it’s a reversion to how Cooley began his musical career, all those years ago when he would hammer out his favourite video game music on keyboards, playing them over and over until they ultimately became part of the bigger picture (see the severely likeable intro to “New Euphoria” from 2008’s Cherry Blossoms, or the fluttery effects on “Involuntary Dreamer” from the follow up album Here’s To Nowhere”). On XYXY, though, he’s more astute about the sound he’s creating, even though he’s essentially still stitching together lots of ideas so as to create a tapestry of sorts. On “Kingston” he fuses together flurries of indistinguishable sounds that come together to create the effect of catching the sun through a car window as you pass by lines of trees. On the EP, it comes across as the most directionless thing here, something without a definable start and end point, like he’s trying a little too hard to fuse together the sound of Here’s To Nowhere with his piano-led approach. But over four and half minutes it still manages to ebb and flow, essentially capturing the indecisiveness of the lyrics on display.
What follows it, though, is the title track, which is the best thing XYXY has to offer. Beginning on some “Kid A” piano chords, Cooley starts and stops the track, going from reserve to desperation in a moment’s notice as he tackles the issues about revealing his sexual orientation. “X and Y, X and Y/ It’s not alright/ I can’t, I can’t,” he pleads as his voice rises above the music. From there he goes on a wander, heading into something which sounds like a jazz duo riffing off each other, but more appropriately sounds like Cooley finding escape to clear his head. This vocal anxiety is also present in “Hostages” where pipes up “Don’t say a word/ Nobody gets hurt,” like something is genuinely on the line, be it his life or just his sanity.
As Cooley has matured, he’s found a way of approaching an idea without making out simple, but also without cramming too much in. While “Kingston” verges on the latter with its layers and effects, elsewhere, he hold himself back from dealing out too much; if anything he sounds like he’s experimenting with the sounds he’s using in real time. There are plenty of lyrics to pick apart here, which help paint a clearer picture of Cooley, but XYXY spends the majority of its twenty minute runtime on those aforementioned instrumental diversions. “Alone Is Okay” presents itself clearly over a few minor piano chords, but come the latter half, Cooley is exploring the melody as far as it can go without diverting too far off from a cadence. Were this to happen over the course of an album then it might make for something that drags its feet, but on an EP, Cooley gives himself the opportunity to try and find where it’s all heading. “XYXY” and “Hostages” make XYXY a valuable release in itself, while combined with the other two tracks, we’re given the chance to peer at the possible future sound of Mesita. But as suggested, Cooley works in real time (understandably rendering the original new album title of Future Proof superfluous), and consequently, he’s allowed to start and stop again, and even reverse completely should he want to. He’s old enough now to know to that second chances come at his own accord.