The Mooney Suzuki

I’ve been meaning to check out The Mooney Suzuki for ages and ages. In fact, so long that they are on their fourth album. I’d been turned on by the name – combining the surnames of the two classic krautrock band Can’s singers. And I really shouldn’t have waited – I liked this A LOT.

Right from the outset, with 99%, this was rock I recognise – the opener being hi octane pub rock, something Graham Parker and The Rumour might have played. The na na na na na na chorus and backing singers just sold it to me. This Broke Heart Of Mine is an old clockwork blues shuffle that could belong to Mungo Jerry. Rock ‘n’ Roller Girl has the nostalgia for an age yet to come of The Beach Boys, allied to a classic lope that any number of eighties American indie bands aimed for (They Might Be Giants, etc). Riff-tastic flourishes colour in and illustrate lyrical quirks. First Comes Love could be a polished up Ramones song played by someone else. The killer chorus; “first comes love, then comes complication, first comes love, then comes expectation”, sells this one to me.

This is a set of strong songs sitting on traditional frameworks, not in a revivalist way or that of a pastiche, it’s more like they love the forms and speak the musical language, so they find it natural to express themselves in this way. It’s a sophisticated production, tying the three main players into a set of session players and blending it into a solid, radio-friendly, full sound-stage. It was written by Sammy James Jr at a time when guitarist, Graham Tyler, had quit the band and they had been dumped by their label. So what we have here is fundamentally something written for a solo project, then arranged for a band. That has given us an emphasis on structure and song, before all the normal band flim-flammery gets in the way, confusing things.

Mercy Me squeezes in a cooing backing chorus and a wringing guitar solo. Good Ol’ Alcohol is a hilarious paean to the joys of all the different drugs you grow through, from high school dope through psychedelic mushrooms to good ol’ alcohol.. It’s a laconic spoken tale with an oompah band backing and would not be out of place on a very late period Monkees album. Only one track, Leap Of Faith, lacks a bit of energy but is quickly redeemed by the rock and roll of the last track. In all, this is an album that sounds like fun and uses classic rock to make a record that doesn’t have an age or a genre.

Ross McGibbon