Top positive review
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Gorgeous, illuminating synthpop
on 14 July 2011
Although it's only 31 minutes long, there's 11 superior songs of synthpop on this album that you'll find it difficult to better anytime soon. This is a cracking elegy to the art of musical brevity, fused with some powerful emotions due to Maus's captivating performance.
Originally a part of the Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti lineup, Maus is also a professor of political language, but took time to study composing as well. It shows, because "We must become" is littered with glorious hooks, middle eights, soaring choruses and most importantly, a wide range of musical textures, indicative of someone with a proper training in the art of composition. At the centre of it though is Maus's own voice - an addictive mix of Ian Curtis's baritone and idiosyncratic character. Add some compelling and addictive vocal refrains, from the staccato spasm of "Pussy is not a matter of fact" to the slow ballad of "Cop Killer" and the result is a varied, addictive and vigorous album. He is never less than compelling at all times, although it must be said that his breathless political polemic in the press release seems a bit out of sync with the simplicity of the pop album.
Initially it's not easy to escape the comparison of Joy Division. "Quantum Leap" sounds like an outtake of "Shadowplay", but this isn't a rehash of Factory records devotion - Maus's programming of this album means that you swoop between many themes and sounds. Album opener "Streetlight" is suffused with a harpischord-style arpeggio and glacial echo that sets the scene for half an hour of elegant, energetic electronic pop music.
There's time for beauty too - "Hey Moon" rolls off Maus's tongue with a slickness that isn't in line with some of the lo-fi elements elsewhere, making the contrast all the stronger. "Keep Pushing On" has some contrived tape hiss, yet the melodies and his vocal presence brush aside any concerns.
Like all great pop, close inspection often means that you can't see the woods for the trees. However Maus has cleverly kept this album brief, loading it with hooks, key changes and anthems that will have you returning to it time after time, resurrecting the strength of early synthpop's direct strength and wrapping it in a cloak of his own identity. I can't think of an album in a long time that does what all great music should do - make you feel ALIVE.