The Leeds band Mush came to prominence after their track Alternative Facts hit the mainstream. Listening to their latest album, it’s easy to see how their style of music could lend itself to the over-the-top live shows they have an affinity for – plenty of hard hitting guitar lines to get everybody (both players and listeners) bopping along with the beat.
Overall, while none of the tracks on the album could be described as fast, there is an undeniable energy that pervades the music, going so far as to make some tracks seem faster than they are. That energy keeps you listening avidly all the way through, entertained by every minute.
The music of Mush is a mix of both the Beatles (the vocals) and Wire (the way the music comes to a very abrupt conclusion in many cases), although they are definitely a group unto themselves. The line-up of the band in itself is not too dissimilar to many other bands – it is how the instruments are used which really brings everything up to a new level, and makes them stand out from the crowd.
The tracks Island Mentality and Fruits of the Happening have to be singled out for how unique they are even within the context of a unique album. Island Mentality in particular takes its time to get going, makes sure that any listeners are fully invested before it heads into the meat of the song. Fruits of the Happening is one of the slower tracks, and it differs from the other vocal work in having a broken-up structure. The normal structure of Mush vocals is to have a singer over the instrumental line – in Fruits of the Happening, the vocals and the instruments take turns. There are some vocals (with instruments), then an instrumental section, then vocals, then instruments, and so on.
What’s especially striking about Fruits of the Happening is the way that the band use a guitar to simulate another voice. It doesn’t go so far as to say words, of course, but it is very close to the vocal “scream” that metal fans will be familiar with.
There’s entertainment value in calling one track Coronation Chicken – the naming of the tracks is part and parcel of the theme that Mush are putting across. It sometimes feels like low-grade horror both at what we are becoming, and what we see around us.
The title track, 3D Routine, feels a bit jarring, as though the vocal line doesn’t quite fit with the instrumentals underneath. The voice feels too fast for the music under it, but this small complaint doesn’t take away from what is as a whole a fantastic album.