While two-piece bands aren't quite as innovative as they once were thanks to the rise of acts such as Royal Blood or Drenge, the scrappy garage-pop of Billingham's Mouses feels like a breath of fresh air when lumped in amongst such luminaries.
Whether such acts could even be considered as luminaries as far as Mouses are concerned is up for debate, with the Teeside duo sharing far more in common with the sun-kissed scuzz of Nai Harvest than the aforementioned. Opting for a much breezier aesthetic than simply just weight and riffs, the pair combine off-kilter pop melodies with a punk sensibility that's both snotty, and undeniably charming.
Setting the precedent for the what's to follow, album opener 'Girl' is a loping and woozy introduction to the band; fuzzed-up and abrasive guitars are deftly balanced against an inherent pop charm. It's a dichotomy that works massively in the band's favour, flowing through the heart of the album and allowing tracks such as 'Algebra' and recent single 'Hollywood' to fizz and pop with irresistible energy.
Elsewhere 'Icarus' provides some much needed respite from the clattering anarchy it proceeds; a stoned vocal layered hazily across a meandering guitar line. It's not a removal from the band's off-kilter psych-pop, merely them recharging for an equally snotty and no less lo-fi second half.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Mouses, is how little the band's sound requires a bass. Where most DIY two-pieces feel a little thin on the ground when it comes to their back end, here it's replaced by Ty Segall levels of fuzz, more than making up for any missing bassist.
Once one of the North East's best kept secrets, Mouses, alongside North Eastern pals Eat Fast, have very quickly become one of 2016's break-out bands. Packed full of youthful exuberance, their debut is bursting at seams with all the vigour and vitality of being a 20-something, effortlessly balancing it against the anxiety and neurosis that comes packaged with it. Essential listening.
Words: Dave Beech
- - -
- - -