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A review of...
The Mouses Album by Mouses
Teesside duo release no-nonsense debut
As I'm a lucky resident of the North East (ex-Middlesbrough, now Newcastle) Mouses have been on my radar for quite some time. Their gigs have always been manic, raucous, entertaining spectacles, I've brought unsuspecting friends along for the ride, and they've been unanimously polarised by the duo's blend of racket and melody. So, based on their live show alone i'd have put Mouses down as a thoroughly underground/niche act. What an unexpected surprise it was then when I played The Mouses Album for the first time, for this is a record that fuses their aforementioned racket with a tiny amount of restraint and some wonderful production, resulting in an album which is as melodic as it is raw.
The Mouses Album opens with "Girl" which is just about as good an opener as I've heard all year, a blistering 4 minutes that blends massive distorted guitar with feelgood surf-rock and a no-holds-barred vocal. It's a sucker-punch introduction to the world of Mouses. And the record keeps up this frantic pace throughout with tales of modern society (see "Pope") and drugs (see "Poison"), which in other hands could come across as a bit fake, but with Mouses it just seems very honest.
I've always maintained that, as a general rule, the more people that you try and cram into a band, the less effective that band becomes. This is mainly true for noisy rock n roll bands. Just check out what Jack White has churned out since Meg split The White Stripes. Or look at some footage of The Cribs with Johnny Marr. It's not a pretty sight. So it's good to see a band working so well with just their barest bones. When you're in a duo like this there's nowhere to hide, Steven Bardgett (vocals and guitar) and Nathan Duff (drummer) have to put a shift in to make music that sounds this good, and here they've recorded a cache of tracks which come and go in a flash. There's no boring bits, no stodge, just ten darkly-comic pop songs which should, an any sane society, propel this band to bigger and better things. Just don't ruin it by adding a rhythm guitarist please.
"Girl" - Steven Bardgett gets to grips with himself on this crunching album opener which brings to mind the heavy/dulcet tones of Weezer and The Thermals.
"Green" - probably the catchiest tune on an album full of catchy tunes.