Mourn - Sorpresa Familia - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Mourn - Sorpresa Familia

by Bill Golembeski Rating:8 Release Date:2018-06-15
Mourn - Sorpresa Familia
Mourn - Sorpresa Familia

They look so young. Of course, I’m talking about The Fab Four as they smile down from the window at EMI’s London headquarters on the cover of their first album, Please Please Me.

And this album by Mourn takes the rock ’n’ roll baton and proves itself worthy of the race with an active and melodic rhythm section, urgent and clever guitar work, and vocals that are tough, sweet, sometimes chanted, but always with a mission. “Barcelona City Tour” opens the album with a brisk guitar bit that becomes (almost) progressive in its complexity while the chorus “What a shame you’re not ashamed” is chanted just to let the world know there’s still some truth to be told.

It’s always nice to be reminded that not only are the kids alright, but they still care about stuff.  And as William Blake once wrote, “Expect poison from the standing water.”

This album stirs the waters with a punk attitude and nice melodies.

“Skeleton” is a wonderful cacophony of pleasant noise. The four band members push outward in all directions, but still congeal into single song. Great bands do that.

“Strange Ones” asks a lot of questions, while the guitars probe far and wide for a response. I once read a bit of bathroom graffiti that said, “Moderation in all things, including moderation.” Alienation is pretty much the same thing. And alienation rocks and rolls with moderation throughout the record.

“Fun at the Geysers” is catchy ramshackle rock. It recalls the post-punk music of Wire. It’s music that can only promise to hold itself together for the short duration of the tune. The song sort of holds its breath. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. Mott the Hoople were masters at that. John Lennon’s vocal on “Twist and Shout” from that very first album Please Please Me collapses with exhaustion into the run off grooves. There just isn’t anything more. Some Beatles biography said there was blood in the milk John was drinking between takes to sooth his throat. Kids those days! My friend, Kilda Defnut says, “Rock music is always about twisting and shouting, but it’s also about blood and milk.”

Odd thing, though, “Candle Man” is a sudden foray into the beauty of a picked guitar, an absolutely lovely vocal, sensitive percussion, and a lifeblood pulse by bassist Leia Rodrigues. This is followed by “Orange.” It’s a short quiet oasis in a confusing world. Again, the drumming of Antonio Postius is sonically sensitive to the tune. And the vocal harmonies of Carla Perez Vas and Jazz Rodrigues Bueno are sublime. Kids these days!

Just an idea: I read some old review that described the band’s music as “savage racket.” Well, that may have been true, but this new record is well produced music. Sure, the songs are rough, like the music of The Ramones, Sleater-Kinney, Patti Smith, and The Pixies; but this is a world-class rock band that anyone would be lucky to find playing in a club down the block, the kind of place in which real rock ‘n’ roll still exists.

After the respite of the last two songs, “Doing It Right” revs the hammer and is thick with insistent grungy guitar and tough exclamation point vocals. This is, simply put, good rock music. “Thank You for Coming Over” is also heavy and urgent. “Bye, Imbecile!” is another great song that shouts its melody in terse commentary, with an (almost) Pretenders’ “Chain Gaing” guitar break.

But you know, they still look so young. Of course, I’m talking about The Kinks as they pose for their first album. Ray never smiled, and Dave has long hair, but he wasn’t old enough to really sign a recording contract. Thankfully, he was old enough to play that frenzied solo smack dab in the middle of “You Really Got Me.” And Ray was yet to write the brilliant “Waterloo Sunset.”

Every kid should be given a chance to write such a song.

Now, I’m going out on a limb here and suggest that “Divorce,” with its clever off-kilter rhythm, could be a backing track for a prog band like Gentle Giant. Sure, it’s concise prog; it’s punky prog; but it’s still really loveable complex music. Please don’t throw stones at me, but Yes’s “Long Distance Runaround” comes to mind.

I don’t think rock ‘n’ roll cares about age or boundaries. If it rocks, it rocks. Of course, as everybody knows, if it falls out of a tree it’s probably Keith Richards. So even prog, if it prog rocks, is all right.

“Epilogue” and “Sun” end the album. The former is yet another tune that threatens to fall apart, as all great rock songs do; the latter is deep and languid. It’s a broad and flat song. Then the vocals and guitar sort of explode into a thick finale.

So yeah, they still look so young. Of course, I’m talking about all the kids I taught for too many years. Memories and music don’t age. I’m an old guy. And I suppose the interest in this album will increase with the decrease of birthdays. But I don’t know. I was always thrilled when some student sheepishly came to me with their band’s album because they heard I was a teacher who loved rock music. I still have all of The Droids’ singles. I listened to The Smart Boys, who later became The Ex-Action Figures. Ge Ge Nug (love that name) crashed because of creative differences, and The English Setter Dance rose from the ashes. I still have their single, “I’m Not That Stupid to Be That Stupid” b/w “Our Tree Song.”  I recently returned The Acorn Bridge’s cassette to its rightful owner, a great student from long ago who now manages a favorite record store. He still looks young to me.

So yeah (again), it’s all about blood and milk and a young John Lennon’s ragged throat cutting vocal on “Twist and Shout.” It’s always here, and it’s always there. And it’s in this record. It may not turn the stars, but it certainly turns the head of an old guy, who still is wary of “standing water” and knows, after listening to way too many albums, that the kids are (and will always be) alright.   

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