THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “It’s been a decade since we last heard new music from Marnie Stern, but when her guitar bursts in like a shower of stardust on The Comeback Kid, the followup to 2013’s The Chronicles of Marnia, it’s like no time has passed. The Comeback Kid is a statement of intent: “I can’t keep on moving backwards,” Stern repeats on the anthemic lead single Plain Speak, her fingers furiously tapping the fretboard as the song joyfully zips forward like a rocket hitting warp speed.
Stern shares: “Plain Speak keeps a positive attitude in the face of frustration. Keeping that hope alive is really the most difficult thing for me to do in life, so I try to do it as much as possible in my music. This song is a perfect example of that. Some of the lyrics are backwards, to keep the theme of feeling like you are moving backwards in a situation and no one else seems to give a shit but you!”
Where has Stern been? She cops to having been lulled by the gentle rhythm of a nine-to-five job as the guitarist in The 8G Band on The Late Show with Seth Meyers; she’s also been raising two kids. But when it came time to start working on a new record, the ease with which she picked up right where she left off was surprising even to her. “I expected that all those years of playing other kinds of stuff would have influenced me — and it didn’t at all! I was fully back where I was before,” Stern says.
Make no mistake: This is no nostalgia trip. Stern continually pushes herself outside of her comfort zone throughout The Comeback Kid, including not leaning on the tapping technique that launched a thousand Eddie Van Halen comparisons. Til It’s Over is as straightahead an “alternative rock” song as Stern has ever made and there’s a cover of Ennio Morricone’s Il Girotondo Della Note.
“It was so great to be able to start being myself again and when I would think, ‘Oh, is that too,too weird?’ I’d remember I’m allowed to do whatever I want! This is mine. It’s me,” says Stern of writing songs for The Comeback Kid. “I’m trying to go against the grain of this bullshit that when you get older, you lose your sense of taste. I want to empower people to not be so homogenous and go against the grain a little bit.”
Taking joy in your individuality is the message of The Comeback Kid, as is the realization that making music which truly reflects who you are in all your brightness and your weirdness is quite possibly the key to happiness. “This record is about reassuring yourself that happiness is not about what kind of things you have or how many things you have or what you don’t have — it’s about all the good things you do,” says Stern.