Mwahaha

Mwahaha

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At the very least, Mwahaha are eclectic. Fusing together pop melodies, experimentalist indie rock, and art rock with odd pop melodies and electronic instrumentation, the band cover more territory on their debut album than most groups do in their entire career. However, Mwahaha works better in specific moments than it does as a straight listen, mainly due to their uncontrolled ambition. Each song is purposely freewheeling and asymmetrical, coasting in a river of murky shadings, twinkling textures, and odd grooves, often branching off from one fractured idea to the next without warning. Likewise, the sweeping, cathartic melodies by lead vocalist Ross Peacock are often off-kilter, as are his lyrics, which are either mystical or strange, depending on your view. The tempos never exceed mid-level and the songs often feel like three or four songs tacked together, making the record quite difficult to pick apart. The good thing, though, is that Mwahaha is far from predictable. The concept of fusing together live analog instrumentation like electric guitar and bass with electronic drums and vintage synthesizer arpeggios keeps the music of Mwahaha enthralling, despite the lack of traditional, tuneful structure. The individual pleasures of the songs become more apparent with each listen (the guest appearance by Tune-Yards' Merril Garbus on "Love" is one such highlight) and a track like the droning, 11-minute "Bathynomus Gigantes!" suggests that the group could blossom into something special and utterly unique down the line. [The two instrumental electronic bonus tracks tacked on the end of the album for the 2013 re-release by Plug Research feel like a mismatch, both conceptually and sonically. Wisely, they are not mentioned on the CD sleeve.]

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