Museum Mouth – Tears in my Beer

Museum Mouth - Tears in my BeerAh, sweet nostalgia, stock in trade of many a band. North Carolina’s Museum Mouth are a three-piece outfit coupling low-key personal lyrics with fuzzed-out lo-fi indie/punk rock. The lyrics are a real strong point although when read they don’t stand out; it’s in their musical context that they work. A poetry of the little things, small strokes painting big pictures. Very intimate, very personal, and a little sad and lonely. Hearkening back to more youthful days, past relationships and moments frozen in memory, the recollections of the prematurely cynical: “Now I’ve never been big on taking risks / but god knows for you I tried. / I was young before I got old / and I got old way before my time”.

Their endearing lo-fi rock reminds me a little of Now, Now Every Children with pacier songwriting, less heartbreaking melodic vocals and guitars more informed by garage indie rock than NNEC’s quiet/loud shoegaze buzz, and Museum Mouth throw in buzzy synths to thicken out their sonic soup. Still, the fuzzed-up sound and the intimate, personal lyrics are significant connective tissue. Museum Mouth also utilise an affecting combination of sounds: a reverby clean sound on the guitar that’s then scuzzed up; a strange effect on the female vocals that make them sound a little distant, as if sung down a phone. There’s a good juxtaposition with the occasional male vocals, too; the latter sings flat and low, which is unusual but effective.

I’ve already noted that the band’s lyrics are strongest when heard, not read, but I can’t resist quoting a little of ‘Outside’. “You write songs about getting over me / So I don’t write songs any more” marks a deliberate attempt to detach from a shared past, with the chorus refrain lamenting the singer’s decision that have made them more distant and engaged: “I’m sorry Nabokov / I’m sorry Salinger / I’m sorry Edie / all my old heroes would hate me.” It’s a hard thing to leave someone with whom one shares a lot of one’s life and loves; harder still to draw a line between the past and the present.

Other stand-out tunes are ‘Habit’, a tune with a great vocal line about feelings of longing and weakness, and ‘I Stopped Caring’ which typifies both Tears In My Beer‘s sound and its apathetic themes. And then there’s ‘Virginia’, a quiet and minimalistic swansong to the intimate moments which will never again be shared.

Musically, Museum Mouth don’t leap out, although their sound and vocal stylings are distinct enough to be difficult to mistake for anyone else. But it’s in their lyrics that they really shine; the lyrics which bare heart and soul and weakness and loss and apathy. And it’s hard not to love them a little for that.

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