Label: Cruel Nature Records
Punk rock means different things to different people; there’s no real common sound to it any more (if there ever was), and as would be expected some 40 years on from its inception, the genre has splintered off in to a huge variety of different scenes and styles. Arguably the only thing that can still reliably identify something as punk rock is a rebellious spirit, and that’s something Mirrored Lips have in abundance on MOM. You don’t need to understand the Russian lyrics to appreciate what the trio have created here, with the creative, rebellious soul of the band coming through clearly no matter what language you speak. A challenging, varied listen, MOM is noisy, difficult, and everything I like my punk rock to be.
There’s a whole host of different sounds and styles at play on MOM. Taking in artistic post-punk, three-chord stompers, and a general disregard for convention, Mirrored Lips are playing music on no one’s terms but their own. The first two tracks should make this clear; whilst opener “1800” is art-school post-punk built upon a simple bassline and creative percussion and guitars that lurches in to distortion-drenched loudness with barely a warning, second track “ленин” is a straight-forward, fuzzed-up punk/garage rock monster topped off with impassioned, overblown vocals that is more than the equal of anything being produced elsewhere. The 35 second “NO LOVE BUT KILL” hammers that home, racing ahead with no regard for what anyone may think and all the better for it.
Elsewhere, an almost jazz-like air of improvisation comes to the fore, with the songs being held together by the loosest of musical threads even as their spirit continues to come through strongly. “моспроект” combines spoken word with gentle guitar and percussion to wonderful effect, whilst “прямая линия” – possibly my favourite track on the record – does so with much louder moments, in a manner that would make many post-rock bands green with envy. The tension in “22” is marvelous, too.
It doesn’t always quite come together, though. The majority of “аденоиды” doesn’t really connect with me, and the heavy repetition of “профессия” threatens to undermine the energy and momentum the album has built. Even at its weakest though, the ambition and spirit of MOM is impossible to deny, and Mirrored Lips deserve praise for writing music with such creativity and disregard for convention.
Still, on the whole MOM is an engaging, daring album, full of rebellious punk spirit and varied songs. It’s not the easiest of listens, and might take a few plays to fully understand, but such patience is more than rewarded.
MOM can be streamed and downloaded via Bandcamp; a cassette version is also available from Cruel Nature Records (limited to 30 copies). Of note, the version on Mirrored Lips’ Bandcamp has the two sides in a different track listing to the one on Cruel Nature Records; for this review, I used the Cruel Nature Records version tracklisting.