just mustard heart under

Just Mustard – Heart Under (Partisan Records)

After being nominated for the Choice Music Irish Album of the Year award in 2018 with their debut Wednesday, Dundalk five piece, Just Mustard, are back with their second album Heart Under.  Newly signed to Partisan Records, this album stretches the sonic boundaries, pushing the instruments to their limits, creating a sound that is more experimental, industrial and ethereal than ever.

Heart Under was recorded in Attica Studios, Donegal, and the soundscape seems to mirror the landscape –  solid rock, layered with lush, green overtones. It opens with the haunting vocals of ‘23‘, stirring with spine-tingling intensity, while heavier undercurrents reverb like Lou Reed‘s Metal Machine Music.  Guitarists, David Noonan and Mete Kalyon make their six strings wail, bringing a sense of  terror to tracks like ‘Still’ while Rob Clarke’s nodding bass adds gothic shadows to tracks like ‘I Am You‘. No wonder  The Cure are fans.

This is a multi-textured album with a cavernous, underwater vibe. Katie Ball’s liquid voice dances over the mourning harmonic drones and intense rhythms, as it swells into a ferocious beast, juxtaposing heavy searing riffs with the lightness and emotional honesty of the vocals.  As the pressure builds, it feels like the industrial soundscape could overpower the delicate voice altogether, but it always rises, elegant and triumphant, like fresh grass, pushing though the paving stones. It is that tension and delicate space between the hard and the soft where the beauty and truth  lies.

The distortion on stunning tracks like ‘Blue Chalk‘ hints of mermaids singing underwater and can make the listener feel disorientated, but Katie’s ethereal voice is like a lighthouse in the storm, guiding you to safety. Like My Bloody Valentine‘s ‘Loveless’, the voice is the anchor.

As the album progresses, there is a sense of abandonment in lyrics such as ” I am yours in this river” and “Into you I am thrown”, while the end of the album has a feeling of being in control with the imperative “Swim here with me”. It could be argued that that the best way to enjoy this album is to do the same thing; to abandon your expectations and submerge yourself in its sonic waters, knowing that there will be light glinting through the dark. Tracks like ‘Mirrors’ illustrate this lightness perfectly, with its playful chorus and male/female harmonies paralleling the mirrors in the lyrics.

This  album is smoky shoegaze on a more industrial level, with drummer, Shane Maguire, beating an iron staircase with a stick, creating a metallic backbeat that contrasts the beauty of the  vocals. Guitarist Mete says, “This is just a piece of wood with some metal strings attached; you can do whatever you want with it.” Sonic Youth had a similar philosophy when they inserted drumsticks and screwdrivers under the guitar frets, redefining the genre. Experimental attitudes like this are where the most exciting music comes from, so take a deep dive into  dark, dreamy, metallic waters of Heart Under.

Heart Under is out on Partisan Records on 27th May 2022.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.