[21 August 2006]
You have to love a band that would dub the first song on any album “Evil Knievel”, and The Mouse That Roared does just that. The track is a seven-minute trek that sounds a bit like Wilco circa Yankee Hotel Foxtrot as singer Stephen Kozik’s sparse, minimal pipes are offset with a slow, plodding backbeat and subtle keyboards. It’s a fantastic start, making less impressive numbers such as the subsequent “A Non-Corporeal Motorcade” work well. Think of an urbane Calexico and this song comes to life. Sluggish but in the best way possible, The Mouse That Roared shine on the world-weary Americana nugget “Master Of Seasons” with sweet, fragile harmonies to boot. The first quasi-pop song is “Southside” which contains an effective down-beaten chorus. The group tosses in a couple of shorter, somewhat unfulfilling tracks that last around 90 seconds for portions of the latter half, including the Southern fried instrumental “My Gold Is Paid” and the spacey “The Incredibly Nimble Fingers Of Walter Cringely”. Another pleasing but pokey tune is the title track, a winding type of song that doesn’t fit into any cookie-cutter format. As for the 11-minute closer, “The Grifter” is a somber, Americana epic that takes its good ole time wrapping up, hitting all the right notes along the way.