Lines Redacted

Out Febuary 12 2021

Memphis Industries

The Leeds-based art-rock trio, Mush, are set to release their feverish second LP, Lines Redacted via Memphis Industries on February 12, 2021. The new release, which finds the group recruiting Lee Smith (The Cribs, Pulled Apart By Horses) on mixing duties, arrives just under a year after their debut LP, 3D Routine, capping off what has been an obviously tumultuous, but remarkably prolific year for the band. With any prospect of live shows decimated, the group, led by songwriter, Dan Hyndman, has found the time to release two EPs (‘Great Artisanal Formats’ and ‘Yellow Sticker Hour’) and now a duo of full-length albums.

Tipped previously by the likes of BBC 6 Music, Loud & Quiet, Uncut, Q, Stereogum, DIY, The Line of Best Fit, Dork and more, Mush, comprised of Hyndman (guitar/vox), Nick Grant (bass/vox) and Phil Porter (drums), present their own sonic idiosyncrasy. It’s a sound that blurs the lines of abstract surrealism, existentialism and social commentary; utilising guitars as tools in 2020 to stave off malaise whilst simultaneously commenting on the nation’s ability to fall into such dire straits. It’s a sensory overload of wiry tones that zig-zag between punk, prog and sardonic-funk with a relentless ability to reflect society’s faults and apathy in a unique and acerbic manner.

Whereas the band’s debut was very much a product of its time, something part-inspired by the political atmosphere of mid-2019 and a genuine moment of optimism when the prospect of a socialist government in the UK was on the cards, this new record uses tongue-in-cheek cynicism as a coping mechanism for the environment that we now find ourselves in. From one song to the next, Lines Redacted introduces a string of different narrators with each providing a different reflection on the Armageddon scenario that we are slowly entering, whether that’s bemoaning it or gleefully willing it along. 3D Routine presented a bed of scathing political jibes latching onto themes and decisions of the time. Lines Redacted mutates these ideas into something slightly more sinister whilst maintaining all of Hyndman’s razor-sharp wit that permeates the album.

Lines Redacted acts as a manifesto of misinformation, covering themes of social, political and economic confusion. It’s an idea further emphasised with the album artwork. Designed by Martyn Hill, this poses an abstract-impressionist take on a redacted document that, although we can see what it is, we can’t make sense of what it’s trying to tell us. A fitting metaphor for the music.

Both sonically and visually, Lines Redacted is Mush at their Mushiest and weirdest with guitar-noodling and abstract lyricism dialled up. Obscure dystopian fables tell the stories of our current social climate and the spoon-fed media delivered to us every day. First single, “Blunt Instruments” sets the landscape for the record with the protagonist attempting to conduct a surrealist post mortem of an apocalyptic event and re-orientate himself with his new dystopian surroundings. Ultimately, he finds some schadenfreude in the collapse of things. “Drink the Bleach” references the recent health advice with Hyndman observing: “On the inside / Peroxide Dye / What could go wrong? / Blondes have more fun” whereas “Lines Redacted” latches onto some of the album’s wider explorations of blurred ideologies. The track finds our protagonist joining the herd of useful idiots looking to derive pleasure from their newfound amorality and the conquests it has taken them on. “Seven Trumpets” meanwhile laments the lack of urgency and half-hearted approach to change that we so often present. “Spectator sports. An Apathy,” sings Hyndman, “Conservative with a small ‘c’.”

Intersecting hooky guitars with a foot-to-the-floor pace, Hyndman’s biting lyrics find a new potency when cut with the music’s quick delivery. When combined, the elements present something in equal bouts immediate, humorous and staggeringly true. “Positivity” perhaps presents this exasperated tongue-in-cheek cynicism in its finest form with Dan taking aim at the Keep Calm and Carry On routine that we so eagerly run to in times of strife: “Blitz Spirit, yeah you get the gist / And I’m off my tits on happiness,” he sings over ping-ponging guitars, reflecting his views of languid gestures onto the album’s “Peak Bleak!” narrative. On the blistering album highlight, “B2BCDA” (back to back consecutive dark age) Hyndman presents a path to follow based on accelerationism. It’s an idea somewhat sculpted into the track’s sonic metadata with fuzzing guitar licks tacked onto a scorching tempo as Dan suggests we sit back and watch on at the collapse of it all.

Live shows alongside Girl Band, Shame, The Lovely Eggs, Stereolab, and more allowed tracks from 3D Routine to develop in the live capacity before becoming their fully-formed, recorded counterparts. Lines Redacted, on the other hand, is a product of supposed home-working and having more time to-hand; written at the tail end of an election cycle, in the midst of a pandemic and with a large-scale recession lingering like a dark blot on the edge of an ever-shrinking horizon. Lines Redacted finds the group stripping back some of the direct punk elements presented on their debut in favour of something more progressive and developed, doubling down on their experimental tendencies. Album closer, “Lines Discontinued” scratches this itch as an expansive cut that mines some of Hyndman’s stream of consciousness musings on the motherland, winding in and out of ebb-and-flow guitars that ramp up into what feels like a season finale at its climax.

Lines Redacted is out on February 12, 2021 via Memphis Industries