Muzz: an ambiguous album review

Muzz album cover

Over a handful of days in late 2021, Muzz became my second favourite band and album of 2020. That said, I was only listening to the first four songs.

I think you should listen to them too.

First four songs: 10/10
Remainder of album: ??


context

In October 2021 I was listening to a lot of Interpol: Turn on the Bright Lights, and it was still as good as the day it was recorded. 2002 really got it right with this one (and with Beck: Sea Change.)

like looking in a mirror

In quick response to my looped listening, the algorithm started to favor the Interpol sound and edges (relationships) in recommendations.

(Aside: around this time I saw this article in my Google newsfeed, with Bright Lights as the cover image, something about Pitchfork revising past ratings. And I thought, “well I can’t believe they rated it low to begin with, but I’m excited to share my enthusiasm in the album and see what it’s rating has increased to!” Well it turns out it was the only album on the list to have its rating decreased, and by a substantial amount too, from 9.5 to 7.0. Pitchfork isn’t sharing in my re-appreciation.)

So I was doing dishes or making dinner and I heard Paul Banks’ unmistakable voice poking through the algorithm. But he sounded…closer than Interpol, more present. And all the instruments had this warm glow to them, like Bright Lights + Sea Change, together at last.

content

It was Muzz! And it quickly moved into my #2 best recent albums, just behind All Them Witches: Nothing as the Ideal.

We had family over for thanksgiving weekend, and I kept slipping away to listen to the first four Muzz tracks, over and over.

Bad Feeling is a perfect opening track. It’s sparse, with only a special few notes carrying the song, along with a beautiful snare and its reverb tail.

There’s some simple genius in the start of the second verse, an instrumental first half, with the vocals coming late and leading like a slow ramp into the second course.

Evergreen reminds me of another 2002-era gem: Hayden’s Skyscraper National Park. A slide guitar doubles the vocal line, and together they flow like syrup through the song’s slow tempo.

And when I get to Patchouli I’m floating in the sink, in my dishwater, a bit of red pepper bobbing in the suds and grease.


ambiguity

The ambiguous part of the review is my impression of the remainder of the album. It hasn’t grabbed me like the early songs.

I need to listen to the whole thing on shuffle, like I used to with new CDs. It tends to help me notice great subtle parts in the other songs, maybe by some process of osmosis from the songs I like to the songs I don’t.

Muzz has captured the feeling of hanging out with friends, the fresh wounds of self-development left behind for a night, driving through Huntsville backroads, trees, darkness, comfort.

On October 8, 2021, I updated my current musical rotation to include Muzz. Maybe it’s still there?


Disclaimer: YouTube Music isn’t sponsoring me, but it seems they’ve sponsored this post in some insidious way. No hard feelings though; I owe this bounty to the algorithm.

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