The Mabuses | Mabused (Magpie)

cd_mabuses.jpgThis thing is meant to be listened to, to thoroughly immerse yourself in like classic rock albums of yesteryear compelled you to.






Some bands make albums, and other bands just put a collection of songs together every so often and hope for the best. The international pop ensemble who call themselves The Mabuses clearly believe in the value of making an honest-to-God, creatively cohesive album. You get the idea, listening to their utterly splendid new Mabused, that these guys pored over their record collections growing up, paying attention to the lyrics, reading the liner notes and soaking up every sonic detail emerging from the speakers as groups like The Beatles, XTC, Roxy Music, Beach Boys and others stoked their imaginations.

It’s hard to assess all their influences, but The Mabuses have made one hell of a bodacious platter, that’s for sure. The packaging is lavish (there are subtle nods to both Sgt. Pepper and Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti in the colorful artwork/design elements), the music is rich with unexpected details (such as samples of old blues guys inventively blended into stellar art-rock arrangements) and the sequencing is a marvel.

This thing is meant to be listened to, to thoroughly immerse yourself in like classic rock albums of yesteryear compelled you to. It’s impossible to imagine someone just downloading one or two tracks from iTunes. Nope, this is a fully produced, unified work of musical art, friends. To treat it any other way would be a disservice.

Kim Fahy is the vocalist and primary songwriter for this merry multi-piece – he’s a heady type who used to be in The Assassins, and apparently rubbed elbows or something with The Jesus and Mary Chain, Miranda Sex Garden and others. He’s joined here by multi-instrumentalists Les Cargo and Lucien Nataf, bassist Chris Wilson, drummer Jamie Harley and assorted others.

What an inventive batch of aural confections these gents have concocted! From ace opener "Dark Star"—a terrific driving song, to the aptly named "Mirth" (a curious, psychedelic delight), to the dense soundscape of "June"—a song you’d guess was late-period XTC if Andy Partridge had been the vocalist…this is all primo art pop. Some songs, like the Beatle-ish "Seasider" and texturally gripping "Glass Eyed Pitter Patter," pack so many ideas and elements into their roughly three-minute length that you can’t help but be dazzled by the sheer unpredictability of it all.

There are two instrumentals: "Tiger Lilies" and "Garden Devils." But where some groups place instrumental tracks on albums as filler, The Mabuses here have served up gorgeous, luminous orchestral pop truffles that should command the attention of the likes of Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks.

There are some startling arrangements here. The acoustic guitar-laden "Sugarland," in its relaxed melancholy and perfect placement of vocals in the mix, reveals a truly attentive band at work. And on "Byayaba," you get a sterling bit of psych-rock in which one well-scraped guitar chord is played over and over, to hypnotic effect.

This album is like a surging stream of musical ideas, often twisting around this rock or that, but always going unmistakably, purposefully forward. It’s a jaunty, trippy delight—a recording that takes you somewhere and reminds you that music should be an experience, not just a handful of soundbites for today’s challenged attention spans… A | Kevin Renick

RIYL: XTC, Olivia Tremor Control, Flaming Lips

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