Mush – Down Tools (Memphis Industries)

Some artists are constantly trying to reinvent themselves, genre-leaping and switching to new styles from one album to the next. Others, like for instance Beach House or Tindersticks, are more faithful to their sound, ever striving for their perfect record, fine tuning but not hugely changing their aesthetic.

Mush mainly fall into the latter category, making subtle alterations to their sound as they go, without risking the metaphorical throwing out of baby with bath water. And this is not a criticism. Mush have a sound that identifies them instantly; seconds into opener ‘Grief Thief‘, before even the very distinctive vocals of Dan Hyndman appear, this is recognisably the new album from Mush. And that really is some achievement, what with a billion albums out there.

Having said this, ‘Grief Thief‘ plays with its song structure, a stop-start Pavement -style approach coming through, even a little in Hyndman’s vocals, before ‘Karoshi Kareoke‘ sounds more like something for the earlier records. You can hear the band’s possible influences coming through (‘Get On Yer Soapbox‘ even has echoes of Stump and ‘Groundswell‘ is one of a few tracks that pays a slight homage to The Fall) without them ever losing their own identity.

Down Tools also has a really excellent production, (the album was recorded by long-time collaborators Lee Smith and Jamie Lockhart), a little like The Strokes in that the songs can sound simple on the surface but little details can be discovered (especially through headphones) where there’s somehow a lot of space in the songs as well as those details. 

Group Of Death‘ has a real lightness of touch, quite a departure for the band, singer Hyndman relating that it started off as a football song but didn’t quite end up as one. Good title though. The album finishes on its title track, which is quite a downbeat finale to the record, but it’s a real grower and takes quite a turn into a discordant, repetitive noise at the end.

Down Tools is another fine Mush record and maybe even their best album yet. 

Down Tools is out now on Memphis Industries.

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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.