There is something, a feeling or perhaps even a perception, that goes beyond most reviewers’ abilities to explain adequately when an album resonates deeply, emotionally, with the listener. The self-titled debut by Muzz, a trio of incredibly experienced musicians, is such an album; it is one that is felt more than it is heard and it is so at a layer that resonates on wavelengths only reserved for the finest of arts. Perhaps more simply, the debut album from Muzz is astoundingly good.
Muzz are the trio of Paul Banks, known best as the frontman of Interpol, drummer Matt Barrick of The Walkmen, and multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaufman, most recently with Bonny Light Horseman. The experience of this trio at crafting minor-key laden, slightly melancholic melodies is present all over the album, and certainly from the first few notes of album opener “Bad Feeling”. There is a gravitas that comes with their sound, a weight and depth that is made obvious by their sonic decision-making and ear for simple but effective production that plays to all of the band’s strengths. Banks’ vocals are as smooth as they have ever been, almost gauzy but never restrained, as if he is simply driving in a comfortable gear instead of pushing himself too hard or too fast. Both Kaufman and Barrick contribute a great deal to the atmosphere with great variety in both percussion and instrumental layering.
Though there are many standout moments – “Red Western Sky” and “Broken Tambourine” in particular–it is perhaps second track “Evergreen”, with its shifting sonic palette from verse to chorus, or the desolate beauty of album closer “Trinidad” that showcase best what the band is all about. Not only is this album a slow-burning and melancholic bit of magic, it somehow also carries a timelessness that cannot be over-stated.
This is an album not to be missed.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: MUZZ – MUZZ