John Maus – We Must Become Pitiless Censors of Ourselves album review

Honestly? I couldn’t really get into John Maus’ long-winded ‘We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves’ – an album released in June 2011. The same instrument – possibly an organ or some ancestor or cousin thereof – dominates this collection of music, making it incredibly difficult to hear Maus’ possibly Morrissey-sounding voice (which can only be a shame).

John’s voice is like a faint, annoying noise in the background – like the humming of a computer or white-noise. While every song sounds instrumentally different, his vocals remain stagnant and uninteresting. I’m a huge fan of vocals and lyrics, so when they’re oppressed and hidden behind instruments, it gets to me. You know sometimes when you’re at a concert, the sound sucks and the singer’s voice is all muffled? That’s kind of how this entire album sounds – this might be because he’s singing into one of those old, enormous plastic microphones from your childhood. Or is he? Beats me.

‘Streetlights’ is first up. It opens with some generic, repetitive techno beats, and then Maus begins to mumble his way into your first impression of him (which isn’t a good one). Plus, once you’ve heard this song, you’ve pretty much heard them all. Well, as far as technique, tone, and ‘suck’ go. I have never been a huge fan of music where the instruments overwhelm the singer themselves, so I guess I’m biased in that sense.

The following song is extremely annoying, appropriately entitled: ‘Quantum Leap’ – because that’s exactly what this entire album needs to take… right off of a cliff. Some phony over-the-top, try-hard beat leads us into this let-down of a song. Boo.

‘Cop Killer’ is another song, which repeats: ‘Cop Killer, let’s kill the cops tonight, kill the cop killer.” After that it’s more mumbles that aren’t even worth the effort it would take to decode them. Neither instrument, technique, nor tone has changed.

The album ends with ‘Believer’ and I could actually stand this song. Well, the first eight-seconds that is, before that loud and irritating ‘organ’ thing started playing. My verdict for this album? Mundane. I feel like John’s stone isn’t going to do much rolling, my bet’s on the accumulation of ‘Maus.’

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