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John Maus – We Must Become Pitiless Censors of Ourselves review

A spoonful of sugar makes the ’80s synth-pop go down.

I was born in the late ’80s.

Maybe that’s the reason why John Maus’ junior album titled “We Must Become Pitiless Censors of Ourselves” was so alluring to me– I don’t remember the decade in any special way, so the ‘nostalgic’ goodness of this album lets me form my own mental play land. “Hey Moon” has a lullaby-like melody to it, inviting you to a place you’ve been before, but even in its familiarity it is differently. The female vocal accompaniment is crucial and the echo of the vocals on the track is compelling, as are the vocal stylings on every song.

The CD makes it simple to retreat back to the simplicity of the decade 20 years past, but with updated lyrics (Matter of Fact). I can imagine the lyrics of certain songs as the same lyrics appropriate for use in a chillwave song, just a different setup–hold the echo.

Everything may not make sense to everyone (if you’re one of those people who must listen to music that makes sense, John Maus might rub you the wrong way, but you’ll still get  “Keep Pushing On” stuck in your head) but that’s part of the allure I was talking about. I’m sure it wasn’t supposed to be a point A to Z album.
I felt strangely Scarface, spinning in a world of white powder and paranoia, but what other music do you know that can draw a person to that mindset. Scarface is a classic.

“Cop Killer” had a latent lullaby in it, if you can listen past the content.

I enjoyed the deep-voiced vocals. It was haunting in a good, echoy, omnipresent way. What is that? Why can’t I explain that the way the sounds reverberate after they hit your ear is interesting in some songs. I hope it wasn’t just the trip back into time that caused me to enjoy this album the way that I did.

I haven’t delivered any criticism of Maus’ album… Until now. I have my favorites, but the third and fourth time around listening to “Pitiless” led me to find some songs annoying (We Can Breakthrough). I’ll just say that there’s a certain volume level at which to enjoy “We Must Become Pitiless Censors of Ourselves.”
I wanted more for myself out of the album, but in the end it seemed somewhat project-like. I still like “Hey Moon,” though.

By Septembre Russell

I'm a writer, a reader, a fixer, a lover. What can I say? I like to try my best to sidestep the cliches in life, but sometimes they are inevitable.

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