John Maus Vinyl, CD & tapes by John Maus at Norman Records
John Maus is about as close you can get to having a pop star for philosophy professor. Once a teacher at the University of Hawaii, he very occasionally embeds his readings and teachings into his own art -- how 'bout that there title We Must Become The Pitiless Censors of Ourselves for didactics? In the main, though, he creates silly, aesthetic parodies of synth pop, using his low, surveying voice alongside fluttering, looping keys and nostalgia-slapping beats. Somewhere between earnest and inane lies this man and his beguiling and strangely particular music -- no one thought you could take the '80s and make it sound like your own, isolated world, but John Maus did.
Maus came up respecting artists like sine droner Michael Pisaro but somehow ended up playing keys for pop annoyer Ariel Pink, drifting into a world of leftfield songwriting and lopsided experiments. He released Songs, a straight-faced, utterly deadpan collection of doom-sided new wave, including "Don't Be a Body", a song about having sex with cars, and the smash un-hit "Time To Die". From there he released two fan favourites, Love Is Real and Pitiless Censors, both offering growth to his foreboding yet humorist style. "Believer" saw him in his stride, a song you can see him pour meaning into at live shows, which often just consist of him, an MP3 player and a whole lot of jumping. Since then, Maus has been going prolific, with two releases coming this year alone. He's set to write moody, mocking pop songs for as long as he lives -- as long as there are keys to swirl and words to mumble.