Songs
2

  • John Maus
  • Upset! The Rhythm
  • 2006-03-20

This release is the debut solo album of John Maus, affiliator of Animal Collective’s Panda Bear, and key member of Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. The Upset! the Rhythm label that this is released through have championed the likes of Lightening Bolt and Deerhoof so its leftfield lineage is impressive. As a record this is solo in the (almost) purest sense — composed and recorded over 5 years entirely by Maus with two tracks performed with Ariel Pink. Maus’ biog describes this as his life’s work, which is a shame as frankly its awful.

Songs is a mostly electronic experience, synthesizers take precedence with drum machines, bass and vocals making up the numbers. Giorgio Moroder’s sountrack to The Neverending Story (1984) seems to be an influence but trades in that films cloying fantasy for a more disturbing sense of mood.

Just as it seems a song could develop into Air-style dreampop, the singing starts with a refrain of “Oh My! Grandma’s peed her pants again”

That probably sounds like a positive illustration to some, and Songs first few tracks are quite intriguing. Baroque synths wash out from the speakers in the opening track. “Time To Die” follows, veering from lo-fi electro-pop to ‘Synthesizer Moods’ blandness in three minutes. However, it doesnt take long (3 songs?) before the forced ‘wackiness’ and Maus singing like he’s trapped in a wheely bin becomes tiresome and any enjoyment goes downhill quicker than said receptacle coming down Ben Nevis. The music is the meagre high point, just as it seems a song could develop into Air-style dreampop, the singing starts with a refrain of “Oh My! Grandma’s peed her pants again” (“It Takes Time”) and it all goes wrong again.

I wonder what the point is to this record. If its a tongue-in-cheek joke then what’s the point? It’s not subversive or funny enough. If it’s sincere then it perhaps gets slightly more credit by virtue of being quite bonkers, but I’d also worry about the protagonist’s sanity if he spent 5 years working on it. This may be of use to those who pride themselves on listening to the most ‘out there’ stuff but I cannot imagine who else would enjoy it.

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