Them Moose Rush – Dancing Maze Review

The next loopy assignment is here, courtesy of Croatian weirdo trio Them Moose Rush. When last we saw our intrepid heroes, they had been unceremoniously dumped in a squalid restroom, one member splayed out in a bathtub, another doing a handstand in a bidet. They have since escaped and made it as far as the dinner table, although with no sustenance of substance. Still, one must take the positives when they come! And for me, that positive is another crazy album from these nutters. Dancing Maze follows Don’t Pick Your Noise, and promises more of the same Primus-meets-The Mars Volta that I both expect and hope for. In fact, I’m praying these guys don’t evolve.

One thing is for sure, Them Moose Rush haven’t lost their sense of humor. On Dancing Maze, each song is about a hero following a path through a maze. In “Dolly’s Wedding Song,” for instance, Dolly Parton has to shave her monkeys. And “Jerry’s Bacon Flavored Vegan Potion” has not only a herky-jerky riff, but a loony title. The DIY video for lead single “Jude’s Got Another” is as uproarious and silly as anything they’ve done, as Russian mobsters chase after a hair growth elixir. And it’s all delivered in the same exuberantly belligerent manner as the band’s past work, which is a Good Thing. In fact, while on their last album I praised them for writing short prog songs, here they’ve taken it a step further, culling a good eight minutes from the proceedings, which lends the songs additional vitality.

All the charming goofiness in the world wouldn’t do a drop of good if Them Moose Rush sucked, but lucky for us they don’t. If anything, their songwriting prowess and instrumental chops are more refined now, but no less askew. “Ray’s Dancing Maze” sets the tone, with a massive funk opening that’s one of the coolest things I’ve heard this year. Not content to get the funk out, the band moves into a trance-like groove before dropping into lounge-lizard mode – all in the first ninety seconds. That’s how they roll. “Jeff’s Transcending” is a sultry shuffle with moaning verses and disarming lead breaks. Closing track “Jack’s Secret Algorithm” features a riff that makes you feel as though you’ve come to a sudden stop but your forward momentum is pitching you over the edge.

Through it all, Nikola Runjavec’s sneering, slightly demented vocals force their way into our hearts, full of the boyish charm that youngsters who got punched a lot have. His guitar playing is equal to the task, with a feel that is deceiving compared to the music and lyrical style. And on more than one occasion, Vedran Komlen’s drumming and Kuruc’s bass playing display amazing groove, from the straight-ahead (for them) metal of “Annie’s Moles” to the crazed lines of “Dolly’s Wedding Song,” which give Primus a run for their money. The simple production – just get it all down on tape, and mix it in such a manner as to hear everything – actually enhances what’s happening, making it easy to focus in on whatever instrument you like. And trust me, on each song you’ll want to listen a few times with that in mind.

After more than two years of waiting, Dancing Maze does not disappoint. Them Moose Rush deftly display their stellar musical skills and their consistently bizarre sense of humor to lovely effect. This is a band at the top of its game, and the growth from Don’t Pick Your Noise to this is small but rewarding, with a higher degree of skill and focus than previously seen. With more succinct, and dare I say accessible, writing, Dancing Maze should open the band up to a well-deserved wider audience. Madam X would be proud.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: TMR Records
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: June 19th, 2020

« »