[Captured Tracks; 2015]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: Flood and Steve Albini fighting over PJ Harvey
Others: The Raincoats, The Pixies, PJ, Babes in Toyland if they were British

Never mind the sonic references to The Ramones or even Sleater-Kinney; the two Catalonians that started up MOURN (though now with the help of two other equally young compatriots) are nothing if not ambitious. They have their sights set on attaining, if not emulating, the level of artistry in song- and production-craft achieved by artists like PJ Harvey, when she triumphantly carried on the venerable torch of 80s indie (alternative?) rock. How else could they have recorded songs with the caliber of opener “Your Brain is Made of Candy” or “Dark Issues” within the span of only two days? And it doesn’t stop there: other songs like “Otitis” and “Marshall” sound like the work of determined elder statespeople of “rock & roll” working something out in the studio with some immensely respected producer or engineer.

Hyperbole or not, this music needs to be heard to be believed. MOURN founders Jazz Rodriguez Bueno and Carla Perez Vas, both of whom are still in their teens, produce music that simply sounds way beyond their years, the impression being not unlike hearing Laura Marling’s first few albums when they first came out. I’m not trying to articulate any commonalities between the two, much less through age. But both acts have shown that, after all this time, the world at large still doesn’t pay them their due attention, or furthermore, possibly, respect.

So it goes that some works of art either rely too heavily on the power of first impressions. But not so fast, fortunately; for the most part, this isn’t the case with MOURN’s self-titled debut. It’s short, but rightly so, because the band trailblazes through the whole thing with such energy, spirit, determination, and certainty that their sometimes tendency for almost losing themselves in their references gets lost in the frenzy more often than not. There are echoes of The Pixies’ entire discography abound, and, sure, some Sleater too — a word here, a phrase there. But most of all, what this album captures or at least channels is that indescribably singular and unsettlingly beautiful texture and tone that the aforementioned Polly Jean was able to evoke on her first three, now-landmark albums, Dry, Rid of Me, and especially To Bring You My Love — just check closer “Silver Gold.” More specifically, and interestingly, however, PJ’s major influence on MOURN can only be fully appreciated by also acknowledging their consciously invoking a formidable musical genealogy dominated by female-fronted bands — The Raincoats, L7, Babes in Toyland, Band of Susans, others — all of whom, for lack of better words, fucking rocked. Not bad bands to have as influences, surely.

And that’s another thing: MOURN work within the confines of a relatively particular aesthetic and tradition, but like the alternative, indie, punk, or no-wave bands they might be fans of, it’s only on a superficial level — the range and richness only being found, rewardingly, well within the songs themselves. Newer, younger bands have every right to hate any comparison to older artists. But MOURN, while still struggling a bit to overcome their influences, still sound no less than incredible and compelling on their debut. If these songs are any indication, they’re going to continue to grow and develop such that not keeping an eye on their future work would be regrettable. And that’s putting it lightly.

Links: MOURN - Captured Tracks

Most Read