So I’m pretty sure that I didn’t notice my not finishing a sentence when I finished this review for Cool Try.
This review was written almost four years ago, so what I was trying to say about “Hot Mess” is anyone’s guess.
“Hot Mess” is actually an almost entirely apt description of the album, now that I think about it.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with a band aiming to sound cool, but too often it comes at the expense of sounding good. It’s the same with the aping of prior eras of music. Nothing wrong with looking back, but immersing in nostalgia for an era you weren’t a part of risks your music being highly derivative.
Aside from a few grammatical fixes, this is presented as it was.
I hope you enjoy.
Mercy Mountain is the debut album by Moses Gunn Collective.
It has a fairly strong start with “Strawberry”, a fun, uptempo track driven along by flourishes of noise until about halfway through when it switches to something more “psychedelic”, “dreamy” and wobbly in sound, highlighting the two biggest problems of this album:
Most effects are excessive in nature and the band sound as though they focused more on being cool than anything else.
There are three standout tracks here: “New Romantic Novocaine”, “Hot Mess”, and “Neighbourhood”. “New Romantic Novocaine” is a fairly unassuming bit of pop that builds on itself really well until it explodes near its end, leaving a good blend of synths to close it off and “Hot Mess”
They both seem to peel off much of the excess that permeates the rest of the album and whilst they are still somewhat effect-laden, they are stronger as they sound far less driven by them.
“Neighbourhood” is fairly low-key and almost naked in sound.
It seems to be a fairly somber view on suburban expectations.
Surprisingly, when it takes on more instruments, it remains somber-sounding but it also adds a bit of hope.
Some of the remaining tracks sound fun (“Mercy Mountain” and “Hole in the Wall” sound as though they want to be danced to), and some sound airy (“Desdamona” seems to be invoking imagery of driving along in a cool summer breeze).
There are also some catchy choruses here and there (“Shalala” instantly comes to mind), but most of this sounds consciously stylish, intentionally aping sixties and seventies psychedelia without adding much to what’s already been.
Much of the album could have benefited from being stripped back.
The songs would have been much stronger overall had there not been anywhere near as much reverb and/or delay used as there is.
As it stands, the effects smother more than they assist and don’t give the impression that the band were confident in their songs.
Had they been reduced by at least somewhere around half, the “psychedelic” and “dreamy” elements would have remained just as strong; possibly stronger as they wouldn’t have been so much more overt than everything else.
The album probably could have benefited from having a better mix too.
There’s little breathing space for the songs and they come off as being far louder than they need to be, making the songs sound obnoxious at times.
For a debut album, Mercy Mountain doesn’t come off as a good start.
It would have worked better as a four or five track E.P.
I can’t deny that the band do have talent.
I also can’t deny that whilst the songwriting could have been better, it does show minor promise.
However, Moses Gunn Collective didn’t seem to spend enough time on making the songs as strong as they could have been.
It certainly isn’t the worst album out there and there’s nothing wrong with being cool, psychedelic or dreamy.
It just could have been much better.
It is clear that Moses Gunn Collective have their own voice.
They just need to allow it to be heard.