I have started writing this review three or four times but I just couldn’t quite put into words how this left me feeling after listening to the whole EP a few times. The problem is that there is something rather unsettling about MUFFIN’s debut EP, or rather I should say disturbing, both musically and lyrically. This doesn’t mean that it’s something you might not want to listen to, it’s just that it’s not an easy listen. The band did, to be honest, point the way with the single release ‘Welcome To The Modern Age’ which I reviewed a little while back but taken as as one whole hit the EP left me feeling – let’s say – feeling somewhat concerned about the band’s state of mind. But we live in troubled times and art, and that includes music, should reflect that.
So why this is musically disturbing. All of the tracks have these odd off-kilter sounds, frankly startling guitar, or these warped and strange drop-outs, or unexpected tempo changes, or just weird little bits of vocals. So listening to the EP isn’t easy, you need to really listen. A little attention is going to give you huge rewards. And once you’ve done that frankly you can go back and just fucking rock out, because they work on that level as well.
Lyrically the words are important in these songs. This is ‘heavy’ music and I mean heavy in the sense of thoughtful and important. And yes, the music is heavy but there’s light and shade. The way these tracks are put together is, to say the least, impressive. MUFFIN can really play, the vocals are fantastic. What’s going to stand out, at least the first couple of listens, is the guitar. The guitar grinds, it squeals, no sound is left unused but it all hangs together. And then, at least for me, I started to really take notice of the drumming, bloody hell, this is great.
So the EP opens with ‘Miss Direction’, its ominous start is really going to set you up for the EP. And oh boy do I love the cymbal fill (look I like stuff like that, I’m not going to apologise). And then yep there’s a bit of quiet loud alt rock, but wait it’s going to drop-out and then wind-up, but wind-up slowly in fits and starts, and then there is guitar, guitar that screams.
So you might think you have the measure of MUFFIN but nothing – if my review didn’t make you go and listen to it of course – is going to prepare you for ‘Welcome To The Modern Age’. This is drama. So yes, it might start like an alt-rock track BUT then what the bloody hell is going on, it rocks, it rocks hard, and then it suddenly all drops out and it’s spooky. It grinds, it grinds hard, it grinds like Black Sabbath on drugs. The vocals scream. It is nothing less than brilliant.
Quite what ‘Filter Me’ is about I have yet to get a handle on, I think I do then it slips away. It’s not a ‘happy song’, there’s ‘obsession that won’t me let free’, and ‘she’s just a child’. It’s disturbing, and not just because I can’t work out what the hell the song is about. There are spooky bits, loud bits, there are frankly beautiful bits. The vocals positively ooze angst. It is a wonderful thing, even if I don’t know what it’s about.
‘False Profits’ (see what they did there) is one of those tracks that just doesn’t settle into any one particular style, and that makes it very unsettling. You’re just getting into it, and then it veers off into something else. It sounds, and I mean this as a huge compliment, at the start like a System Of A Down track, it’s quiet loud but heavy quiet loud, way heavy. And then this guitar creeps in, a guitar sound I have become obsessed with. It’s like a mutant Carlos Santana sound.
There appears to be a theme running through the four tracks, a theme summed up in the title of the lead single ‘Welcome To The Modern Age’. The songs appear to reflect certain aspects of ‘The Modern Age’ – musically if not lyrically. We live in disconcerting, disturbing and unsettling times people, this is music for those times.
The point of a review, I guess, is to try and tell you whether you should get the thing being reviewed. So should you listen to, and actually get MUFFIN’s EP. Yes, emphatically yes. This isn’t easy music, it’s music that you need to actually listen to properly, it’s difficult and complex. But that makes it more rewarding, it means you can listen, and listen again, and then listen again without getting everything that’s going on. It is a many layered thing.
These songs are the sound of a band making their own music and doing it brilliantly.
The band are announcing gigs all around the country, see their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/whatismuffn
The ingredients of MUFFIN are:
Matt Bond – Vocals
Jacob Tresidder – Guitar
Jamie Prescott – Guitar
Barry Mageean – Bass
Sam Heffer – Drums