Leeds-based art-rock indie guitar gurus Mush released their second full-length LP this month to much critical acclaim. The album was released on Memphis Industries, home of their Leeds contemporaries Menace Beach, which acts as a good indicator for the sheer quality of this release. Mush burst onto the radar of the music press in the run up to the release of their debut album 3D Routine in early 2020 and, despite the coronavirus pandemic, the band seem to be going from strength to strength and gathering momentum all the while. Lines Redacted follows on from October’s Yellow Sticker Hour EP and is the band’s first release since the tragic loss of guitarist Steven Tyson in December 2020.
3D Routine was, in my mind, one of the greatest albums of 2020, thereby it would be tough for Lines Redacted to top it, but I dare say that the new album is the band’s finest work thus far. Mush have retained their trademark sound, jangly guitars and lyrics critical of the current political landscape, yet have clearly matured a great deal since the last album. The angry, and at times comedic, takes on the current state of affairs are backed up by one of the tightest bands around at the moment. One of my few criticisms of their debut was a feeling of overproduction. If you listen to the 7” release of Gig Economy vs the album mix, for instance, the 7” feels a lot rawer and more energetic – a feeling lacking on the album. On Lines Redacted, however, I have no such criticisms. Lee Smith does a fantastic job of mixing these tracks. Smith had previously worked with Pulled Apart By Horses and The Cribs, which suggests Lines Redacted is purposely going for a more raw, distorted and louder style in comparison to the clean-cut sound of 3D Routine.
Lines Redacted fluctuates between moods. There is certainly more variation in this album in comparison to the band’s previous works – from the upbeat Mush we all know and love on tracks like ‘Blunt Instruments’ and ‘Seven Trumpets’, to a much more mellow, melancholic atmosphere on the final track ‘Lines Discontinued’. On the whole, the album feels much more mellifluous as opposed to the high-energy of previous songs such as ‘Revising My Fee’. ‘Lines Discontinued’ is definitely the standout track, a seven-and-a-half-minute masterpiece which encapsulates everything that is brilliant about Mush. The sudden changes in mood, tongue-and-cheek lyrics and absolute excellence of the guitar riffs – it’s all present within this track. ‘Lines Discontinued’ only serves as a representation for just how incredible and versatile this band are.
I was lucky enough to see Mush perform at the album launch of 3D Routine (before the world fell apart) and it simply blows you away to witness such a display of musical brilliance right in front of you – particularly on Lines Redacted, I think Mush have been able to replicate this perfectly within a studio setting. There are no other bands comparable to Mush currently, nobody else is doing what Mush are – at least not to the same scale or quality – they are beautifully original, innovative, and sure to go down as one of the greatest independent bands produced by the city of Leeds.
Header image: Mush. Credit: Fred Galluci via Mush on Facebook.