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October 2014
Mumblr
"Full Of Snakes
"
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The major takeaway for Mumblr’s new album Full Of Snakes (Fleeting Youth Records) is that it really takes balls to write songs that truly say nothing. As counter intuitive as it may sound, there really is something admirable in using music to not really express all that much. Any jerk with a voice and a few chords can say a whole lot about how their ex is horrible; what really matters is how much of that content is actually worth hearing. And brother, Mumblr has found a way to make saying nothing profound.

On the surface, the album initially sounds like some sort of early 2000’s generic pop-punk; the first song “Got It” opens with that familiar sense of vague, safe anger. It’s very “high school” reminiscent, right off the bat, with lines like “I got it if you want it” and “I’ll invite you to my room.” But as the song closes and we drift into “Sober,” the tone very gradually starts to feel off. It starts to feel a bit weirder, with this sense of reckless abandon that you only hear in a Violent Femmes song. And it’s not that one is true, and the others is not; this album is walking a razor’s edge between the most self-aware of indie post-punk and the obliviousness of adolescent guilty pleasures.

And while that may sound like a chaotic mess, the seventeen-track full-length really is the having-and-eating of one's cake. We get the indulgence of grandiose guitar riffs and over the top shrieks, but with just enough originality in the composition to give it a sense of being slick and even avant-garde. Don’t let the outward sense of crazy abandon fool you - this thing is airtight. And a lot of that can be chalked up to Nick Morrison’s vocals; he brings a real sense of cleverness to the whole thing, in no small part to the fact that he can turn his voice on a dime.

One endlessly fascinating reoccurring theme is the use of repetition in their lyrics, with phrases like the aforementioned “I got it” and “someone’s been sitting in my chair” echoed over and over again, beyond the point of simple parody. It’s that old artistic trope of repeating something until it becomes meaninglessly applied to lyrics, and it’s interesting to hear expressions of youthful angst to become so alien and meaningless.

They take these universal touchstones of adolescences, including the use of “shock” lyrics such as “if God is a woman I’m going to hell” and gleefully drive them into the ground while enjoying the ride. It’s fun, it’s cool, and will leave you thinking more than any other post-punk album in months. And it does so while still being a genuinely fun throwback to a sort of music that you don’t really hear in earnest these days. - Daniel Ludwig

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Album Review: Exorcism - Power Animal

Album Review: Exorcism - Power Animal

The words of Power Animal may be obscured by a boatload of studio manipulation, but what they’re communicating is always clear: This is Feel-Good Music. Evident from Power Animal’s major-key synth hooks and disco percussions is a love of the kind of nostalgic sentimentality bands like M83 and Passion Pit maximize with unrelenting waves of keyboard and second-wave British invasion bands like The Kooks channel into plain-spoken love narratives. But unlike these late-aught champions of electronic-indie, Power Animal don’t do “pleasant” by blending every pleasant thing they could think of into an overwhelming pastiche. Instead of indulging dream-pop’s natural affinity for cheese and excess, Power Animal strip it down into the grimy, humble Exorcism, an EP that, with its bare-bones approach and subtle use of hooks, aims to reclaim the genre’s humanity. 
 
There’s no denying that Exorcism presents itself as “quirky.” The jerky keyboard lines and garbled vocals sound as if they’re culled from records warped by years of sitting in an attic (an image also brought to you by the record’s hazy, Mono production), and the wonky structure of its opening suite “Better Water” suggests the hippie-warbling excess Exorcism could’ve easily devolved into. But as the EP progresses, these cracks begin to reveal the sincere, very real character hiding underneath the saccharine signifiers. The little winks that pepper Exorcism’s excellent second half make it practically interactive. “Mold Spores” was already assured its place as the album’s best tune before the chuckle that slips through its second verse makes its glee infectious, as if we’re being let in on whatever great time Power Animal are scoring. By Exorcism’s eponymous closer, we’re sharing the record’s smile.
 
It could be a more “conventionally” pretty record, but it’d be worse for it. This ambitious kind of pop has a tendency to become weightless in its nostalgia-bating, and while Power Animal certainly capture the comfort nostalgia offers, they also capture its insubstantiality. Built from bits and fragments of pop-eras past, Exorcism sounds as if it could break apart at any moment. It holds together, of course, but as music that sounds like it wants to save the world through sheer positivity goes, Exorcism accomplishes something far more impressive: It actually manages to inspire the feelings it evokes.
 
You can purchase the album HERE, and all profits from digital sales will be donated to Philabundance, a local charity organization that provides food to the needy in the Philly area. - Adam Downer
 

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