If only this whole “mini-album” (FatCat’s words) were as wonderful as the title of track seven: “Dead Spit”. What a great song title! Indeed, it might be one of the best ever. Never mind that the song itself isn’t particularly memorable—the title gets the attitude across quite nicely.
Yikes, this is one disappointing display of discoid dysentery. When a mini-album is far too much, clearly something not so nice is afoot. When the most uncharacteristic musical moment is the best—not to mention it’s a mere minute in length, right smack dab on TRACK ONE—well, ouch. But that’s precisely how I Us We You works. “Intro” (it’s no “Dead Spit” but kudos to the Mutts for their straightforwardness), is a positively pretty little number. Bet the Mutts weren’t looking for “pretty”, huh? (Who ever heard of a pretty mutt?) But sure enough, it’s a gorgeous, sleepy guitar melody, with appropriate rhythm-section restraint. And it’s not even ruined by the entry of the singer, Chris Murtagh, who intones a couple lines, and then… it all goes to pot when the band blasts into the first “real” song, “Dog On Dog”. Sounds naughty, don’tcha think? Yeah, well, it’s not. Unless predictable, hammered-into-your-head riffs and a noticeable lack of melodic variation are naughty, in which case I Us We You is the naughtiest mini-album ever.
In some ways, this disc is all over the map. The juxtaposition of “Intro” and “Dog On Dog” is one thing (or two), the stomp and handclaps of “C’Mon, Come Up, Come In” is another, and the lumbering “Don’t Worry” is still another, and that one’s at least a nice break from the fast-paced monotony. But as individual songs, they just don’t pack any surprises. Even the best of the worst garage bands (as well as the worst of the best of ‘em) provide hooks as well as riffs. The Mutts are all riff, all the time, but they aren’t catchy. As if the overly repetitive guitar melodies weren’t enough, too often Murtagh sings right along with the guitar, rather than against it (“C’Mon”, “Don’t Worry”). This technique wears out the riffs’ welcome twice as fast, and without any attempt at variation, the songs sink. To make matters worse, the lyrics are just as forgettable. Or maybe it’s that the music doesn’t complement the lyrics very well. It’s probably both.
It’s not like there aren’t a few moments that seem promising. Certainly “Intro” is the disc’s biggest tease, but the title track also has a little something going for it. “I Us We You”, the song, rides along on a groove akin to the Stones’ “Midnight Rambler”, which gives it some character. But the Mutts don’t do much with it and they eventually wrap it up with some totally incongruous guitar strumming. And while “Take Yer Pick” boasts the most (sensibly) varied arrangement on the disc, it’s another case of the vocal and guitar melodies being attached at the hip, which is a shame since the prominent guitar figure is borderline catchy.
All in all, while this mini-album isn’t exactly an unmitigated disaster on purely musical terms, it’s also not really worth listening to. Which I suppose is disastrous for the Mutts. Oh well. To the pound with these puppies.
// Notes from the Road
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