Muzz is composed of veteran musicians. Paul Banks is the frontman of Interpol, Matt Barrick played drums for The Walkmen and Josh Kaufman is a multi-instrumentalist and producer who has worked with The National and Bob Weir, among others. The interesting thing about this self-titled debut is how it doesn’t sound like a first album from or a side project at all. It feels more like a record from a group of individuals who have been perfecting their chemistry and have mastered their craft through the years with many releases under their belt.
By this fact alone, Muzz is a must listen. It features a wealth of well-crafted, cinematic, and deeply emotional songs. Its influences range from folk rock and Americana, while using modern techniques of sound design and a more sophisticated production. The lyrics are poetic and deeply personal, with vocals that blends really well with the myriad of layered instruments.
In the few seconds of “Bad Feeling”, you can hear the overall vibe of this album. Never hurried and not interested in too much fanfare. Opting instead for introspection, this first song declares it’s troubles away with lush horns and vocal harmonies: “So long / Bad feeling.”
“Evergreen” follows as a fusion of folk under the constant droning of the drum machine. Washed up synths mimic a crooning slide guitar, and halfway through the song you hear the real thing. Marrying the old and the new in such a refreshing way. “Chubby Checker” follows in the same vein. Having a more washed-up pallet with heavy 808-like bass sounds. A weird mix of folk and lo-fi hip hop that surprisingly works.
The band also features a few classic rock tracks. “Red Western Sky” is epic and expansive. With sprawling horns and grandiose organs. It feels like you’re on an adventure through a barren landscape. “Knuckleduster” acts as somewhat of a sequel, with an urgent galloping pace of one trying to fulfill their destiny.
One of my favorites is “Summer Love”, with it’s somber yet hopeful recollection of an old memory. A bed of gentle synths and flutes with acoustic guitar embellishments showcases the band’s arranging prowess. The choice in instruments is varied, but it blends so well that you won’t notice it until you dig deep.
Muzz is something I highly recommend, even for those who usually do not listen to folk rock – it’s modern-sounding production should ease you in. My expectations were already high due to the fact that this was a supergroup composed of highly talented musicians. But they have crafted something even better than the sum of their parts.
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