Catalonian four-piece Mourn make a welcome return with 26 minutes of youthful exuberance.
‘Ha, Ha, He.’ (out now via Captured Tracks) is the second album released by Mourn in the past two years. It would have been released even sooner, if it hadn’t been for label issues, and everything about this album adds to the impression of a band that wants to race ahead at full speed following their critically-acclaimed self-titled debut. Opening instrumental ‘Flee’ is a perfect example of their urgency, with a spiky riff reminiscent of At The Drive In. It’s summery in sound but retains their punky attitude, including a cute bass solo from Leia Rodríguez at its close.
‘Evil Dead’ is suitably creepy, with its shifts in pace and eerie vocals, and begins the references to horror that appear throughout the album. ‘The Unexpected’ has a sense of foreboding through the swaying vocals and darker sound that builds into heavy waves of guitars. It’s far from being all doom and gloom though – Mourn explore their indie and pop influences here too. ‘Brother Brother’ features moments of surf rock and laid-back vocals and ‘Howard’ has the jangling guitar sound that reminds me of R.E.M. ‘President Bullshit’ is melodic, but retains their ballsy attitude.
‘Storyteller’ has a wandering bass line and a jazzy beat that grooves along with the sing-screaming and increases in intensity. ‘Gertrudis, Get Through This!’ further increases the pace, even with the monotone one-word lines in the verses, and develops into raucous choruses. On ‘I Am A Chicken’ Mourn seem to be channelling The Smiths in moments, both lyrically and musically.
The highlights are arguably in the last three songs on the album. The jarring changes of pace and call and response vocals on ‘Second Sage’ come together to make an oddly enchanting song. ‘Irrational Friend’, with its chorus, “Ha. Ha. He!” taken from William Blake’s poem ‘The Laughing Song’, is just ridiculously good fun with blistering riffs. The poem is a recognition that the joy expressed won’t last forever and it’s therefore appropriate that it’s the penultimate song before ‘Fry Me’ closes the album with a crescendo.
This is vibrant punk-rock showing off a variety of influences, intentional or not, making Mourn incredibly accessible and irresistibly catchy. Despite the high energy and frenetic pace, this band demonstrates a songwriting maturity that belies the fact that they haven’t yet reached their twenties.
‘Ha, Ha, He.’ demonstrates why we should rejoice now in the music of Mourn but also look forward to what the future holds for them.