Mouse On Mars: Parastrophics (Monkeytown)
After most likely influencing the rough edges of Modeselektor’s electronic funk for years, it’s only fitting that Mouse On Mars’ latest outing is released on Modeselektor’s own Monkeytown label. It’s been a consider amount of time since I’ve heard new material from the duo, the last thing being 2006’s Varcharz, a fairly spastic, crazy insturmental complement to the slick electro-funk of 2004’s Radical Connector. Radical Connector was by far their most direct approach to pop music, with more vocals and hooks than ever before, but for me it fell flat. Many years later, they’ve regrouped and have created their best album to date. It can, of course, be difficult to compare them so readily, with releases like Glam or Vulvaland being far more subtle and lush than the weirdo fringe pop of Idiology or Niun Niggung, but somehow Parastrophics seems to be a convergence of all of it, and then some. It’s bursting with ideas, 13 tracks in 46 minutes, every single one under 5 minutes (many closer to 3)… and it’s their most unafraid mingling of genres, concepts and sounds yet. They manage to cram in luau surf music (“Chordblocker, Cinnamon Toast”), little dubstep bass wobble flourishes (“They Know Your Name”), shuffle swagger (“Gearknot Cherry,” “The Beach Stop”), pure dance-pop bliss (“Polaroyced”) and more. And those are just fragments of the whole of each track I referenced — there’s a LOT going on here. But the consistent and unifying factor is its sheer exuberance; this is a celebration of sound. The pacing is expert, with enough crests and valleys in the business of the sound to give it a keen sense of rhythm and arc. Like Modeselektor and labelmates Siriusmo, they’re neither afraid to take chances nor afraid to flaunt their goofy sense of humor in ways that manage to never undermine the quality control of their output. It’s a really solid and unique piece of music from start to finish, easily a contender for album of the year.