Home Read Albums Of The Week: Mush | Down Tools

Albums Of The Week: Mush | Down Tools

The Leeds art-rockers loosen up and pound the Pavement on their slackerish third LP.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Down Tools is the third album in as many years from the prolific Leeds art-rock group Mush — Dan Hyndman (vocals / guitar), Phil Porter (drums), Nick Grant (bass) and Myles Kirk (guitar). The new record follows hypebuilding early singles Alternative Facts and Gig Economy, 2020’s debut LP 3D Routine and 2021’s acclaimed Lines Redacted, which pushed their sound further.

On Down Tools, this voice grows again into a more brilliantly singular sound. It sees Mush getting loose, moving away from the defined moods and textures of Lines Redacted with a musical openness, straddling genres while avoiding pastiche.

Hyndman says of the lyrics on Down Tools that “there was a conscious decision to retreat further from an observational approach,” with vocals being ad-libbed, lending the record a more abstract feel. “This album is less dark than the previous one. The Armageddon obsession has eased, or at least the symptoms have become milder due to saturation. Musically there’s a lot more chill on the record — there’s a few more mellow tracks out there and the most astute listener may even be able to decipher some of the words, fingers crossed.”

While grief and the life-work balance form themes on the record, Hyndman’s approach is largely made up of abstract, disconnected streams of consciousness and lines liberally taken from books, paintings, films and beyond. On Human Resources, Hyndman dramatically retells a David-and-Goliath battle he waged with an HR department at a job.

Group Of Death, a phrase familiar to any football fan, is emblematic of the turn towards softer, more considered sounds. Hyndman says: “In my warped imagination it just sounds like a Paul McCartney song, but it won’t to others. I initially had the idea of doing a World Cup song called Group of Death, but by the time it was written nothing beyond the title had any relevance to football. Anyway, the next World Cup is in Qatar so fuck that shit.”

Northern Safari is a song about the way the North of England has been portrayed in the media and used as a mirror to reflect some of the nastier elements of what’s going on in society — in particular vox pops around Doncaster— portraying a particular narrative of the collapse of the red wall and the disgruntled ex-miners. ‘

Ultimately, Down Tools sees Mush idiosyncratically ping-pong from fingerpicked looseners to noise-rock bangers to brilliantly entertaining effect, avoiding post-punk saturation with an easy style and wit.”