Mouthus Follow This House

[Important; 2007]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: noise-rock, scuzz-psych, tribal drone
Others: Burning Star Core, Hair Police, Double Leopards

I'm at this very moment finding an annoyance with whoever can rightly claim responsibility for popularizing the cliché "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." What could be seen as sensible advice in certain situations has turned into a banner for our culture's discomforting laziness, allowing individuals to excuse their complacency and lack of effort with that little tidbit of quasi-wisdom. We see it lots in music, as there are numerous bands who get comfortably stuck in a rut and refuse to budge from their stylistic crutches (see Dinosaur Jr., Superchunk, etc.). What was once exciting, though, swiftly becomes way too much of a standard mess, and seemingly unbeknownst to the artists in question, more than a few ardent supporters are vocally crying for something fresh. I almost want to accuse my beloved Brooklyn duo Mouthus of treading water on their latest longplayer for Important entitled Follow This House, but it's a little more complicated than that.

Mouthus excel at making gorgeously damaged guitar/vocal/drum droned scuzz, an equation that interestingly produces sonic material that simultaneously soothes in its raga-like etherealness and punishes with the unrecognizable fuzz of manipulated strings and electronically treated percussion. Last year saw two fantastic records from the duo, perhaps their best yet, those being The Long Salt (also on Important) and Three-Lobed's very limited For The Great Slave Lakes. Both, as a matter of fact, were moving enough to earn shared spots in my top five of last year. Follow This House was initially supposed to see the light of day last fall, and it may have actually been for the better that it was pushed back. The disappointment from an early appearance of this LP would have been much stronger following those two before-mentioned masterpieces. While Follow This House takes a more subtle, lethargic, and slightly sludgy approach to the usual Mouthus skronk, such small changes in plan can't completely make up for the somewhat uneasy suspicion that you're simply getting more Mouthus being Mouthus.

This is definitely not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. Follow This House is still a solid prospect from this duo, regardless of the obvious slaps of déjà vu. "Vacation Eyes" is a particularly haunting bit of audio metaphysics, all ghostly moans screaming against in-and-out tom rolls and a possessed guitar before it all melds into a disarmingly serene denouement of organ-esque haze and rumble. "Camera" is vaguely terrifying in a way Mouthus, as morose as they tend to materialize, rarely comes across; the bits of broken industrial pounding that emanate behind what may or may not be a haunted piano and the malfunctioning six-string are outwardly chilling, on par with the best bits of unease from Nurse With Wound. The last two tracks, "Lake" and "Half-Thaw," are simply solid Mouthus jams -- no more, no less -- with the former erupting as the duo usually tends to and the later falling into a muck of no-definition that will either compel or frustrate depending on the energies of the audience.

So calling Follow This House a safe adherence to Mouthus' basics is far from a complaint, but a lack of detour down the line could very well prove problematic. Whereas Snow Globes in 2005 saw Mouthus seemingly exploring minimalism and quasi-acoustic serenity, they have since opted to stick to their guns aggressively. And while last year that devoutness produced two of their best statements, Follow This House is simply good by Mouthus' standards, but still hands-down great when held up to whatever mediocrity continues to traverse around.

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