On their entrancing new album Lines Redacted, the noisy British post-punk trio Mush sound a bit like what might happen if an art rock band decided to play on a sunny sidewalk or at a beach instead of inside of a club.
The group’s tunes feature an unmistakable unease, but they’ve glossed over this rhythmic instability with smooth performances that make the album’s journey feel a bit relaxed — but not entirely serene. Instead, journeying through the album feels like cruising down a dusty isolated highway while nearby surroundings contort into unnatural shapes. The sounds, though, don’t feel tense or anxiety-inducing — instead, the riffs feel a bit dreamy, and musically, Mush really lean into possibilities for self-referential repetition, which gives their music a sort of psychedelically unmoored edge.
There’s sometimes somewhat of a stream-of-consciousness feeling in the persistently sprawling instrumentals, and the whimsical dynamics make the experience of this free-flowing music feel like suddenly arriving somewhere with a sense of dreamily unreal possibility.
Vocalist Dan Hyndman performs with an exaggerated spoken word cadence, giving his singing an apparently purposefully somewhat unnatural feeling, and this dynamic also appears in the swinging rhythms of the instrumentals. The guitars sound sweeping, with apparent broad strums underlying the sound, while a consistent stream of energy keeps the music tumbling forward. This persistent forward movement also helps establish the feeling of brightness in the sound — there’s no real sense of getting bogged down here. Instead, there’s a bright and somehow neon-tinted sunrise on the album’s horizon.
The instrumentals across Lines Redacted have a somewhat blunted punk tone. On “Hazmat Suits,” the tones get a bit thicker and there’s more of an overtly rocky vibe, but mostly, Mush stick to free-flowing sunniness. From the beginning, the mid-tempo music feels somewhat danceable — “Blunt Instruments,” the album’s second track, features rather intensely moving energy, and “Positivity,” which comes up next, seems to dial the presentation down a bit in favor of sauntering and sort of jazzy rhythms, but the guiding forward zest remains in place.
In the compelling album’s comparatively more restrained moments, the music feels like the sonic equivalent of a rocky woodland stream. It’s got some underlying force, but the journey is smooth. “Clean Living” features a sort of overtly surf rock vibe, with buoyant but smooth rhythms, but the grounding sense of engaging oddity never entirely disappears. The album’s subtle yet bellicose swagger feels great.
Listen to Lines Redacted below! It’s available via Memphis Industries.