When our resident Mistress of Evil, Madam X, assigns you a review, two things occur. First, you’re going to say yes, because if you don’t, Bad Things Happen. And second, it’s going to be some weird music that, through the impenetrable crevices of her warped mind, only she knows how she decided you were the perfect person to review it. And so here I am, taking it upon myself to review something from a Croatian progressive metal band called Them Moose Rush, who decided that Don’t Pick Your Noise was the best name for their album. Knowing nothing about the band, I went digging about, and the first thing that cropped up was a series of hilarious bathroom promo photos involving spread-eagled bathtub shenanigans and handstands in bidets. Like I said, weird shit happens when Madam X is in control.
Well, after listening to Don’t Pick Your Noise for a couple weeks, I think I know why it was thrown over to me: I enjoyed last year’s Igorrr album enough to purchase it on vinyl. Don’t be alarmed, though: Them Moose Rush aren’t insane like Igorrr, but they play their music in a definite off-kilter, slightly crazy manner that might make one think of that band. To me, though, these guys are like The Mars Volta with a dose of Zedi Forder’s humor. Take the first two cuts: “Voodoo Stones” is short, with an odd rhythm and a vocal line that doesn’t stop through the entire 1:43, and “Dumadu Honey” features a herky-jerky riff that the whole band gets in on, coupled with tempo changes and sudden quiet moments, and Nikola Runjavec’s insane, screechy vocals that make me think of Cedric Bixler-Zavala off his meds. Add it all up and it’s a smorgasbord of quirky, progressive freakouts. And I just happen to like freakouts.
Them Moose Rush do one thing that most prog bands don’t, though: they write short songs. The eleven songs on Don’t Pick Your Noise only add up to 44 minutes, making each cut more effective in that the idea (if some of these songs were indeed composed of ideas, and not just rolling a d20 and picking random short movements) isn’t overcooked. “Whim” is the longest song. It closes the album out in just over six minutes, and fully demonstrates the trio’s superior musical skills. Even if you take the unhinged vocals away – “Whim” features only a few vocal lines – we’re left with some excellent jams, with both feel and aggression. The music throughout, on cuts like the title track and “Lethal Dose of Pretty,” is tight and eccentric, with many songs featuring gradual tempo changes and weird bass lines.
Runjavec’s vocals are certainly a highlight here, but they won’t be for everyone. The man lets himself go like nails on a chalkboard at times, especially on the only song that drove me up the wall, “Radio Violence,” but his charm and confidence ooze through regardless. Not once do we get the impression of anything but the band just going for it, critics be damned. Their sense of humor (and thus the Zedi Forder reference) helps here as well. The lyrics in “Stupid Face” are throwaway lines: “Fuck you, motherfucker. IhateyouIhateyouIhateyouyeah! You got your stupid face, you are a disgrace!”
Don’t Pick Your Noise will appeal to you if you like any of the bands name-dropped here. It’s a fun, short, engaging album featuring plenty of excellent rhythm work, great guitar lines, and wide-eyed, wild-haired vocals that you’ll get a kick out of. Them Moose Rush have a couple EPs and now two albums to their credit, and here’s hoping they keep the craziness going for a few more. They’ve certainly got my attention, and I’m willing to take on the next loopy assignment from Madam X.