Date:February 19, 2018
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A review of...
Replica Figures by John MOuse
John MOuse's fifth album sees him collaborating with Steven Black (aka Sweet Baboo, long lost band-mate from their JT Mouse days), Paul Sheppard from Hopper on guitar and John's daughter Maggie Lola on backing vocals.
It opens pretty abrasively with "End of Mankind" a number which (lyrically) borders on painfully bleak. I think it's safe to assume that he's not gunning for the 6music daytime playlist with this one anyway.
Apart from that, and the some of the other bits of jet black humour that exist on this record, its a pretty accessible spin.
Sweet Baboo's talents aren't wasted and we frequently find that his bass and piano lines are pushed to the front of the mix. This works wonders on tracks like "Boogaloo" which uses Cannon Films' classic Breakdance 2: Electric Boogaloo as a jumping off point for a lyrical tour around a pop culture past that people of a certain age will thoroughly appreciate.
"The Fire Burns" shows a Belle & Sebastian lightness of touch along with their ability to write sunshine pop tunes with a cold twist. "Sue" steals some of Jonathan Richman's lo-fi charm and playfulness, and "With These Hands I'll Rip Out Your Heart" sounds like it could easily soundtrack a Wes Anderson film (perhaps because it reminded me of "Here's To You" by Joan Baez which did indeed feature on the Life Aquatic soundtrack). Then there's the occasional dash of children's choir (courtesy of Maggie Lola presumably) which brings an air of 70s TOTP to the table.
Replica Figures won't please everyone, and I've got an suspicion that the grim narrative of its opening number will be an early deterrent to some listeners. But those who stick with it will be in for a real topsy-turvy treat.