It has been another busy day but not just because of work. I got to play the role of favorite cousin as I took a little cousin to the orthodontist and treated him to lunch. It was a fun little break in my day but, I have to be honest, trying to get back into work after that fun excursion has been rough so I’m taking another break and going to dig into at least one of the albums that have been sitting on my desk for literal months.
‘Here Was Then’ by Mouse kicks off with “Exist in Me”. Right off the bat, this opening track introduces you to Mouse’s distinct style. A little 90s grunge with a little dreamy indie-pop all wrapped up with a slight tone of pop-punk antics in the vocals. What I’m trying to say is that this opening song instantly blended a lot of my favorite styles and vibes which had me so excited to see where the journey that is ‘Here Was Then’ was going to take me.
“Pinned To An Avalanche” starts with a singer-songwriter vibe before the entire band comes in and propels this song into the stars. It’s a lot like the first track but seems to kind of unpack some of the energy and undeniable passion laid out in the first song. With a soaring guitar solo and vocals that don’t take over but command your attention, this four-minute song was over in the blink of an eye and the more dreamy “Dreamlessness” took over my house. I had gotten so hooked on the vocals of the first two tracks that when the vocals switched completely for this third song, I was a bit taken aback but it didn’t take long for me to settle into this more lo-fi vibe and like it. For such a busy day, the calmness that came with “Dreamlessness” was welcome in my heart and soul.
The fourth song, “Puck” was my introduction to Mouse and it was why I wanted to check out this full album so badly. With Saves the Day vibes but in a way only Mouse can pull off, I loved the balance of calm and chaos in this track the first time I listened to it and it seems to have only gotten better as time has passed. The energy of this track has a much more garage-rock vibe to it but it’s still full of those indie-pop tendencies with a grunge edge and a dash of pop-punk. It’s kind of a cop-out since it was the first song I ever heard from Mouse but this was an instant favorite of mine from this album.
Another instant favorite of mine was “Pea 90”. Much like “Puck”, the influences I heard throughout this track hit all of the right notes for me. Leaning a bit more pop-punk in the instrumentation while still keeping the various genres alive throughout the track, I just could not get enough of this song and found myself completely lost in the perfect story-telling that flows throughout the infectious track. Before I knew it, the album had moved on to “Butterfly Net (Song Against Men)” which, naturally, I was in love with based on the title alone. A bit more experimental feeling than the previous tracks, I loved the side of Mouse that this song showed and truly hope to hear more of this anger and angst that I got in this sixth track.
The change from “Butterfly Net (Song Against Men)” to “Petal” is shocking but stunning at the same time. With minimal instrumentation with a focus on the piano and very sweet vocals, I was getting an almost acoustic Jane’s Addiction vibe from this track in a weird way, and just when I started to want to dive into it, this super short almost “intermission” song was over and “Anyone in There?” brought back the endless energy that Mouse seems to have. Along with the energy came that angst and almost angry vibe I got in “Butterfly Net (Song Against Men)” which was welcome. Portions of this track are full of angst. Other parts are super soft and sweet. The balance that Mouse can pull off between those two sides is super hard to pull off but they do it so easily.
As the album continues, both “Kitty” and “The Picture” seem to expand a bit more on the indie-pop vibe of Mouse which is truly flawless. Both of these tracks came off as catchy but not commercial. There are certain moments throughout these tracks that stood out to me as being unique and interesting but, naturally, I’m not going to ruin them for you and will make you listen to them to hear them for yourself. Don’t worry, although tracks on this album are a bit lengthier than the standard, these two tracks are a bit shorter if you don’t have much time. “The Picture” has a slightly more lo-fi feeling to it (although I wouldn’t call it a lo-fi song) that leads into “Don Napier” perfectly. Although a slow and steady track, “Don Napier” has more energy than I had heard in the previous tracks and I loved it. I wanted something loud and in my face to help me get through my afternoon slump and this track did just that without being too aggressive and still have moments of pure bliss mixed in with the controlled chaos.
As the album comes to a close, I feel like Mouse is trying their best to show you some more cards that they have hidden up their sleeves and that starts with “Superimposed and Motionless”. There’s something super familiar about this second-to-the-last song but I fail to find the words to compare it to something else. I’ve had this feeling throughout the album and I love it when that happens. It’s like I know this sound. I know the bands that it reminds me of but, when it comes to naming those bands, I am lost for words because, when it comes down to it, Mouse’s sound is unique and original. “Superimposed and Motionless” is a great reminder of that before the album closes with “Kill Yr Step Dad”.
I didn’t know how I wanted the journey that is ‘Here Was Then’ to end but “Kill Yr Step Dad” was perfect. At five and a half minutes long, it’s one of the longest tracks on the album but I was fine with that as I truly didn’t want this journey to end. There’s a new sense of power and chaos in this track that I didn’t get from the previous songs. Even in the more angsty songs, I feel like Mouse didn’t explore this deep into the darkness and I was here for it. Unfortunately, as I was left in silence after a long outro, I wanted so much more from this band. ‘Here Was Then’ is the first full-length from this band but I sure hope it’s not the last.
My Favorite Track(s): “Puck”; “Pea 90”
For Fans Of: Grungy Indie-Pop; Pop-Punk Tendencies; Controlled Chaos Followed By Pure Bliss
Mosh-ability: 8.4 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie and Alfie slept on the couch; Autumn slept upstairs
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 9.7 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 9.4 out of 10
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