Review: Queen Moo – Mean Well

Queen Moo are well-connected in Connecticut’s music scene, boasting former members of Sorority Noise, Two Humans and Zanders. Their sophomore album ‘Mean Well’ is well-crafted, experimental indie-rock that sweeps across the emotional spectrum – often in a single track.

‘What It Comes To’ opens the album with lackadaisical guitars, Jason Rule’s voice ringing out with regret against the sombre vocals of Kevin O’Donnell. His pleas turn threatening with the promise “I won’t go quietly” and the track grows louder and aggressive. As the pace picks up the phrases become shorter, amplified by the stop-start of chugging riffs.

Fourth track ‘Gone’ is disruptive but hopeful, moving away from the self-blaming prequel ‘Goals’. While ‘Goals’ features distorted, cranked-up guitars, soaring falsetto and harmonies, ‘Gone’ takes a more uniform structure whereby instrumentation mirrors assertive vocals.

Other tracks are more elusive – ‘It’s Become Clear’ is, ironically, unpredictable, with dramatic changes in dynamics and discordant notes. The surrealist lyrics give an intense track some welcome humour, as Rule and O’Donnell unite for some of the album’s strongest vocal performances.

Drummer Nick Charlton sets the rhythm for buoyant number ‘Funeral’, which channels a funeral band. The boisterous brass section and lyrics granting the track some relief from its serious themes.

Queen Moo often embrace their theatrical side, building drama with abrupt stops, flurried drum rolls and sudden key changes. For instance, penultimate track ‘Fixture’ begins with plucking guitars and Rule’s deep, reedy vocals. This energy fluctuates from energetic choruses to driven guitar solos, until it suddenly speeds to a halt.

‘Mean Well’ is indie-rock meets jazz club, a selection of abstract, playful tracks that somehow fit together. As no track exceeds four minutes it’s still accessible for new fans, but it may jar listeners unfamiliar with experimental genres. With obscure references, polyrhythms and unconventional time signatures, Queen Moo’s album will confuse and delight in equal measure.

3/5

‘Mean Well’ by Queen Moo is released 25th August on Topshelf Records.

Queen Moo links: Facebook|Twitter|Bandcamp

Words by Clare O’Shea (@Clare_OShea)

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