Mating Ritual is one of the more unusual names for a musician, but it’s with good reason that Ryan Marshall Lawhon has adopted the moniker. Collective in its appeal but incredibly relatable to the individual, the LA based singer-songwriter has identified the most universally relevant theme out there, dissected it into its core components and meticulously pieced it back together again: the mating ritual. Intricately thought through, Lawhon’s concept leads us through the modern day dating process by way of his catchy, varied pop, all neatly wrapped up into Mating Ritual, his debut EP.
The opening track, ‘I Wear Glasses’ is an indie anthem that lifts the spirit, just as is the case in any relationship’s beginning stages; it’s meant to get your blood pumping, your mouth grinning, your toes tapping. “You know that I won’t let you down”, he sings, before his protagonist does just that in the next song, ‘I Can’t Dance’, which has a similar feel to 00s era pop-rock with its ballooning chorus, catchy guitar hooks, and characteristically moody dynamic.
Meanwhile the third track, ‘Cold’, widens the era gap, its chord pattern and drum beat reminiscent of those classic 90s ballads whose sole intention is to pull at the heartstrings. Lawhon’s smoky vocals are complemented by the purity of Lizzy Land’s voice, providing the absent second perspective in this complicated love affair. If that weren’t enough of a throwback, the final offering on the EP, ‘Don’t Know Your Name’ has those excitable characteristics belonging to 80s electro-pop, the ideal dynamic for completing the cyclical mating ritual, which more often than not ends up with a renewed search for passion in the arms of another.
Lawhon’s idea is logical, and yet it seems entirely unique. In an age where the charts are dominated by songs championing love, expressing desire, or – in the case of one Canadian pop star – saying sorry, we’re inundated with music that looks at our romantic affairs with others. Yet, to come out and investigate it openly is another ball game, which gives him the edge in the already saturated dating pool that is music. But hell, he’s even tackling it with his pseudonym. If anyone knows about this stuff, it’s somebody who goes by the name of Mating Ritual.