Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Mouse on Mars
"Radical Connector"
Thrill Jockey

I've never been one to claim to have my finger on the pulse of the dance/club movement. Primarily, it's just not my "thing". However, sometimes albums come around that utterly transcend genres, and barrel through any preconceived notions that already exist. Last year, Basement Jaxx accomplished this with their dance masterpiece, "Kish Kash". They easily tore down any walls that trapped them within their genre, and made a flat out work of art that any fan of MUSIC could enjoy. The only other time that I can recall something like that happening for me, was in 2001 when The German duo Mouse On Mars blew me completely out of this atmosphere with their pitch perfect, classic LP, "Idiology".

In the downtime between now and then I've asked myself the same question that many other MoM fans have asked themselves : How do Mouse on Mars follow up the MAJESTY that was there 2001 release, "Idiology"? Sure, "Rost Pocks" was good, but it was an EP collection. How would they satisfy us with NEW material? The answer, friends, is quite simple: Once again, just how, "Idiology" came to be, they completely rebuild themselves from the ground up. You see, while going through the very respectable 8 album discography of MoM, you'll find one common denominator in every single one of the albums. They are all completely different from eachother. Mouse on Mars don't seem to be fond of repetition in the least. The amazing thing is, that while each album remains totally self contained, and there really isn't a trademark Mouse on Mars "sound", there is a still a very evident, very distinct voice. This voice yells out through all their endeavors, making each body of work undeniably theirs.

Their latest, and eighth LP entitled "Radical Connector" is Mouse on Mars practicing the same principles they've been incorporating in their music since the beginning. They test their boundaries, and push the respective "envelope" to a meeting point of creative, and atmospheric beauty, while still expertly firing off pop hooks, and completely accessible dance beats that can make any room of people get up and wiggle their collective asses.

One of the things that has always been interesting about Mouse on Mars, is how the structural design of most of their songs have never really bowed to the set design of your typical dance/club tracks. For instance, loop repeating has never been something that they practice all too often, and that particular characteristic is still evident on, "Radical Connector". The impressive point being that despite that fact, they still make some of the catchiest hooks you'll ever hear.

In all honesty, "Radical Connector" is actually a relaxing album. It successfully creates a wholly entrancing pop atmosphere all throughout it's presentation. In the end, is it as impressive as, "Idiology"? No, not really. However, is it a disappointment? No, not at all. "Radical Connector" is not as vast an album as, "Idiology", but stands alone as a pop masterpiece in it's own right. It is sleek at times, but not all throughout. It gets, dirty, and choppy when it needs to be and takes you on a ride through a genre roller coaster that has highs and lows. Just LIKE a roller coaster, the highs are just as entertaining as the lows.

"Radical Connector" did not have the same affect on me that, "Idiology" did, but was I really expecting it to? Why should it have the same affect? To be a fan of Mouse on Mars is to know that they will constantly be doing something different. That's part of why one would be a fan to begin with. On it's merits, "Radical Connector" is inferior when compared to, "Idiology”, but who cares? The most important fact here is that Mouse on Mars ONCE AGAIN, have a made a pop/dance gem, that is, most assuredly, one of the best albums of the year.

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