The members of Mangoo hail from Turku, Finland and it doesn't take a genius to speculate that they were weaned on ‘90s stoner rock and other heavy-handed musical influences early on. However, it's also apparent that the group was later infected by other alien entities, because its sophomore album (and first for Detroit's Small Stone), 2012's Neverland, finds them newly emerged from their transformative cocoons (insert Spinal Tap mental image here) as an artsy fuzz rock band -- one that's also not afraid to dabble in pure pop ingredients when the fever grips them. Which is to say that nothing seems out of bounds on Neverland's 13 tracks, the most predictable of which see assorted keyboards casting alternately warming and haunting glows behind the snarling head-rock guitar riffs of the title track, "You Robot," the epic-length jam "Datzun," and others -- and that's before things get really wild and crazy-weird. "Lose Yourself," for example, features spaghetti western saloon piano and slide guitars; "Diamond in the Rough" is power pop on amphetamines; the straightforwardly named "Interlude" suggests what the Holliday Inn lounge bands are smoking up there in the cold white wastes; "Deathmint" adds pulsing bass guitar right out of the Cure's goth period songbook before throwing a symphony orchestra at you, and the weepy balladry bookending the otherwise forceful "You" threatens to unleash a whistling Klaus Meine upon us (think the Scorpions' "Winds of Change"), but thankfully does not. Speaking of singers, in his highest registers, Mangoo's portentously named vocalist, errrrr…Pickles, is liable to resemble both Monster Magnet's Dave Wyndorf and Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, but his favored nasal drawl is all his own. And while it would be disingenuous to associate Mangoo's quirky inventiveness on its Finnish origins, the existence of countless eccentric musical antecedents ranging from Rubik to Xysma (maybe we can make it an Arctic Circle thing, in which case we'd also rope in the Sugarcubes? OK, maybe not) sure makes it tempting. But regardless of geography and philosophy, the important thing is Mangoo never hesitate to mix and match their inspirations in any way their muse dictates, and that's just the kind of pixie dust required to sweep you off to Neverland.
by Eduardo Rivadavia