Mouthbreathre – Dance of Death
Exeter-based duo, Mouthbreathre, have medieval gothic artwork, a macabre debut EP title and a punk ethos. But don’t be fooled – this is pure, perfect pop that will have you dancing round the room without feeling bad about it. Gordon Rutherford reviews for Louder Than War.
Pop music is delicious. Oh sure, we all like to talk about our penchant for neo-classical, the London jazz scene or the back catalogue of Einsturzende Neubauten. But the reality is that nothing beats a banger. Our brains are chemically composed to respond to a catchy melody. And that’s precisely why the new EP from Mouthbreathre is so, so good.
Mouthbreathre are a two-piece from the South West of England. All music comes from Jake Samael and Laura Wells brings sumptuous vocals. Incredibly, they have only been together since February and this debut EP, entitled Dance of Death, was written and recorded in just over a month. During lockdown. That is no mean feat and I can confidently say that you will be even more impressed when you listen to the tracks.
Opener, Keep Your Eyes Closed (Lullaby), is dreamy psych-pop that reminds me of Warpaint. You are immediately struck by Laura’s shimmering vocals, gliding over a trip-hoppy beat and electric keys. It’s haunting and ethereal. It’s also very, very short, clocking in at an infinitesimal one minute and one second. Keep Your Eyes Closed is a great introduction, but it absolutely could do more given another minute or so.
Following that we have Dance With Death. When I first settled down to listen to this track, with the medieval artwork of a skeleton serenading a couple of hip Tudors with his drum, I expected something that sounded more like Bauhaus or Sex Gang Children. Very macabre and gothic. So, imagine my surprise when a Polica sounding beat and vocal kicked in.
Dance With Death is, according to Jake, about “someone surrounding themselves with toxic friends and relationships for validation”. Between that theme, the artwork and the song title, there is clearly much going on here. However, the music is a complete contradiction. It’s catchy and hooky, with an outstanding guitar riff underpinning it. The vocals are exceptional. After a couple of listens it had become an earworm for the rest of my day.
So, yes, it’s contradictory. Jake considers Mouthbreathre to be a punk band, which is a massive contradiction in itself. But contradictions are good. They make us pay attention and think about what’s going on. And there may well be a punk DIY ethos in their attitude and the making of the music, although it sounds very polished and incredibly professional.
The final track is my personal favourite of the three. Reset is upbeat, synth driven, dream-pop with a serious 80’s vibe going on. It reminds me of the best of Goldfrapp’s work.
The final word should go to Jake, who said in a recent interview that “we want to write songs that make you dance, but feel bad for doing so”. Big tick in the first box. You won’t stop dancing. But you will feel damn good about it.
Next stop is some gigs with a full band and a punk edged sound. Now that is something worth looking forward to.
All words by Gordon Rutherford. More writing by Gordon can be found at his archive.