Muzz, the recently announced side-project fronted by Interpol’s Paul Banks and featuring former Jonathan Fire*Eater/The Walkmen member Matt Barrick and producer / Bonny Light Horseman’s Josh Kaufman, presents its self-titled debut album on Matador Records, a soulful, dark and sonically lush collection.
Vinyl LP £15.75 OLE14581
LP on Matador.
CD £10.06 OLE14582
CD on Matador.
Have you ever been a fan of one record by a band’s debut or one record in their catalogue but never really dug anything else by them? For me, that band has to be Interpol. Their first record ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’ is played repeatedly, but their other output does nothing for me and rarely do I jump to check out their new material. Paul Banks’ baritone vocals fit their moody, urbane goth suites brilliantly on that record, but elsewhere they can border on uncharismatic moping. The latest Banks’ project features long-term friends Matt Barrick of the Walkmen and Josh Kaufman of folk revivalists Bonny Light Horseman. On their first album together as Muzz, they serve up an admirably produced album of brooding and lightly orchestrated art rock.
‘Muzz’ is destined to split the crowd. Some will flock to it for its morose chamber rock charms whilst others will feel it lacks dynamism and memorability. Barrick is known for his powerhouse drumming, and whilst there’s intricate playing and moments of rhythmic brilliance like in ‘How Many More Days’, his usual playing is watered down. Paired with Banks’ narrow use of notes and limited delivery, ‘Muzz’ sounds sleepy and rarely does the music capture intrigue. Understandably, it isn’t a post-punk, high-octane indie smash or plaintive folk rock record as heard in their previous work, though repeatedly it’s as exhilarating as a collection of the National throwaways.
Muzz do manage to deliver a few standout moments, such as ‘Evergreen’ with its 70s Eno-gone-dub qualities, the mild space rock and baroque post rock heard in ‘All Is Dead To Me’, ‘Patchouli’s’ mix of plodding Americana, Jeff Buckley’s twinkling guitars and a gorgeous horn solo, and the wistful waltzing in ‘Everything Like It Used To Be’. ‘Muzz’ is a pleasant and ‘nice’ overall listen, though it's rarely engaging.
It’s interesting to hear the back story of the record: three friends who’ve known each other for ages recording a full-length together for the first time, but as a whole, they don’t really play to their strengths.
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