If you like Ariel Pink chances are you will enjoy We Must become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves. If, like some of my Indie-colleagues, you are of the opinion that Ariel Pink is a hazy git, there’s still a good chance that you will warm up to the third release of Hawaiian resident John Maus. True, his style of production is strikingly similar to that of Ariel Pink, but he scores considerably lower on the freak scale. If Ariel Pink is the Donovan of that little niche of lo fi electronic avant-garde then surely John Maus is its Leonard Cohen.
Like Ariel Pink, Maus, who at one time was involved in Haunted Graffiti, also uses the joy of recognition to lure you into an unusual musical universe. We Must Become the Pitiless Censors shrouded and fragmented memorabilia forms a soft cushion to lie on whilst Maus is doing all sorts of deep and reberby things just above your head.
Each song on We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves is filled with such huge contrasts that it’s a miracle it doesn’t melt into a vast ironic puddle. From the grisly gospel of …And the Rain to the lonely duet of Hey Moon. From the romantic riot song Copkiller to the inaudible stadium filler Believer, always the multiple personalities of the songs seem to get along fine. They make for one of the best albums of the year so far. An album that is one of the most clear cut electro pop albums of recent times, but is cunningly disguised as a Goth rock record.
At first listen We Must become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves sounds rather dark and depressing. These moods are also suggested by the album title and the beautiful but somber artwork. Associations to moody acts like Sisters of Mercy, Joy Division, Alien Sex Fiend and Nick Cave are plenty, but listening closer a certain light heartedness grabs hold of you. Once you get to the point of realizing that ´pussy is not a matter of fact´ you stop being skeptical. Then, even all the gimmicks that make every song feel like a fantastic demo you accidently stumbled onto start to agree with you. The deliberate white noise, the abrupt song endings, the idle drum machine and the unforgivable amount or reverb, they all turn into snappy adornments once you’ve crossed the dead zone.
Normally I´m not great van of that deep resonant preacher like singing John Maus is doing, because I normally associate it with singers that take themselves a bit too seriously. Somehow if feel that, soon to be PhD in political philosophy, John Maus is a bigger man than that. Even though I’m sure that Mahs doesn’t really want go out there and murder policemen or advocate any other form of violence, he is responsible for an album that kicks James Blake hard in the nuts, both cognitively and aesthetically.