All of your favorites, in one place.
Mouthus are professionals. Not that their music is a full-time job, or is made out of obligation. Rather, Brian Sullivan and Nate Nelson approach every recording seriously and diligently, never bending their methods to fit expectations or pander to an audience. Often this devout methodology produces a glorious alchemy; other times it results in workmanlike exercises in sound excavation. But every Mouthus album comes with an implicit seal of quality craftsmanship. You may not find an epiphany in each listen, but you'll never come away feeling shortchanged. Divisionals might be Mouthus' most workmanlike effort to date. It consists of four equally thoughtful tracks, each dutifully exploring a simple idea. If the album lacks the sonic variety or magical moments found on classics like 2005's Slow Globes and 2007's Saw a Halo, it at least gives each chosen concept its complete due. It's as if Sullivan and Nelson decided to hole up in a lab and mix their basic elements in minimal combinations, until each fully interacted and dissolved. Those elements remain flexible and strong. We get heavy doses of guitar drones and feedback loops from Sullivan, hypnotic clangs from Nelson's hybrid electro-acoustic drums, and something resembling vocals buried deep below. It's all wrapped in the duo's trademark combo of robotic repetition, microscopic precision, and messy, organic growth. The overall effect is like that of a metallic flower blooming into a statue and slowly rusting before your eyes. Opener "The Duration Myth" sets an eerie tone, with moaning echoes and rattling percussion feeling like a faded film of an abandoned merry-go-round. The track slowly morphs into a free-rock jam, which Mouthus then hard cut into the backwards-loping groove of "Rotary Sends", sounding like the Dead C in a medieval dungeon. Side Two brightens things a bit-- "In the Erase" adds a lilting, flute-like tone to the roaring loops, while "Telescoped Histories" turns a march of buzzing bees into a bleeping video game. To me-- a Mouthus lifer who was hooked the first time I heard their debut on a car radio courtesy of Princeton's WPRB-- all of this metronomic, heavily-textured sound offers little to complain about, and a lot to love. To the casual fan (hard to imagine, but I'm sure there are some out there), the album might sound solid but not particularly memorable-- a nice little step on a career path that has hit higher highs before and undoubtedly will do so again. But for anyone with ears, Divisionals is clearly another honest day's work from a band that always shows up on time.