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Just Mustard - Heart Under Music Album Reviews

Just Mustard - Heart Under Music Album Reviews
The Irish shoegaze band plunges into darkness on its brilliantly textured second album, led by the eerie vocals of Katie Ball.

On their 2018 debut, Wednesday, Just Mustard rode a wave of noise to the front of the shoegaze pack, breaking from the distorted yearning of the genre’s softer acolytes. Their pseudo-electronic blend of whirring guitars and trip-hop backbeats was its own strain of revivalism—the sound of Beat-era Bowery Electric’s industrial lullabies bleeding into traces of A.R. Kane’s prismatic sludge. But even among these giants of existential dread, the Irish quintet sounded uniquely tormented, winding around singer Katie Ball’s siren-call vocals and dialing into the split-second where anxiety collapses into desperation. Coming from a friend, bleak observations such as “I’m in fear of life/Had it on my mind/Said it all the time/’Cause the dead don't mind,” from “Boo,” would be cause for concern. Slathered in reverb and sent hurtling through a dizzying maze of guitar effects, Just Mustard document succumbing to the inertia of a panic attack with a biting urgency.

Ratcheting up the gloom, Heart Under sharpens the somnambulant dream-pop of their debut to pierce through the mirage of a light at the end of the tunnel. From the fog-horn drone of opener “23” to the wailing feedback freakout that closes “Rivers,” it’s clear that Just Mustard haven’t lightened up a bit during the past four years. United behind Ball’s eerie lead vocals, a role she previously split with guitarist David Noonan, the band takes the plunge into an even more entrancing darkness.

Lead single “I Am You” is a delicate high-wire act, an anthem for ego-death set against pounding drums and howling static. Grinding the creeping dread of Slint’s “Good Morning, Captain” down to a lockstep march, six-string noise piles up slowly as Ball’s plea for transformation (“Can you change my head?”) ascends until it becomes a command, parting the sea of feedback. Even during the less arresting cuts, such as “In Shade,” she goes far beyond shoegaze’s “voice-as-instrument” conceit. Building her voice from a sigh into a full-throated cry in the second chorus, she explodes from behind a wall of ice, shouting into the night. Whether she’s watching the world slip past her reflection (“Mirrors”), processing the regret of inaction (“Rivers”), or disappearing into a mournful daydream (“Early”), the thickest slabs of reverb can’t hide her talent.

Noonan and co-guitarist Mete Kalyon favor the types of effects that send legions of gear-obsessed fans running to the front of the stage to catch a glimpse of their pedals; if their ear for groaning melodies holds up, you can expect dozens of tutorial videos dissecting their haunting tones in the not-too-distant future. The blurred rumble of their interplay seamlessly alternates between atmospheric yawns and melodic jabs. Often, they take entire choruses for themselves, trading fours of manipulated feedback on the stomping highlight “Still” and dragging shards of noise across “Mirrors”’s tambourine-led groove-out. These moments of atonal abandon are immersive and bewildering, turning every song into a funhouse mirror.

Playing out like a series of snapshots from a dawnless night, Heart Under dodges catharsis or release, lingering in staggering volumes and frustrated desires. As the record comes to a close on “River,” Ball contemplates how she could have held on tighter to someone who’s slipped into the past forever, stranded on the shore of a distant memory. “Could I have changed a thing?” she muses, only to be met by a screeching tide. There is no moment of transcendence, of towering above the desolation and meeting a stronger version of yourself. It’s an anti-climax that affirms the deeply personal reality of pain. Rather than holding up a torch, Heart Under adjusts your eyes to the pitch black.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Just Mustard - Heart Under Music Album Reviews Just Mustard - Heart Under Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 Rating: 5

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