2022. While other listeners can likely connect this UK outfit with some bands and traditions of the past 30 years, and they sort of fit in with the angular jabbing of some UK punk of this current era, I hear various late 1970s influences likely showing, both the post punk of the UK and the VU-influenced underground and so-called art rock of the the East Coast and Ohio...maybe getting some shards of inspiration from folks like The Kinks, Lou Reed, B52s, Richard Hell, Joe Jackson, Terry Reid, George Harrison, Television, and Jonathan Richman...the music a bit oddball, angular and off kilter, but the band obviously trying to keep connected with some pop sounds and offer something a bit unsettling and also fun. -- winch (green noise)
“down tools” marks the prolific band’s third album in as many years. mush got loose with this one, chucking everything at the wall musically without filter. the words from lead singer dan hyndman written off the cuff, leading to a more abstract listen.
Down Tools Review by Mark Deming [-] Practically every piece written about Leeds-based indie rock band Mush mentions their distinctive guitar style up front, so if one of their guitarists is absent, it would stand to reason that their sound would change. Steve Tyson, who played guitar with Mush, died shortly before the release of their second album, 2021's Lines Redacted, and surviving members Dan Hyndman (guitar and vocals), Nick Grant (bass), and Phil Porter (drums) cut 2022's Down Tools as a trio. Hyndman is clearly more than capable of handling the guitar work on his own, and he overdubs solos and additional layers of sound on most tracks. However, most of the time, Down Tools sounds noticeably more open and less manic than the band's previous salvos. The guitars take angular detours around the melodies in less dramatic ways here, with less swimming against the current atonality. The effect has Hyndman's guitars seeming a bit tipsy rather than caught up in a frenzy of discord, and the rest of the band follows suit, keeping the tempos and impact in a more reasonable place. The broad, cartoon-y vocal phrasing Hyndman was so attached to has been diluted by half, now sounding like an overly mannered Richard Hell, and this band's Pavement influence, clearly audible on their first and second LPs, has grown that much stronger on these sessions. Overall, Down Tools is the sound of Mush learning to relax a bit, but only so much. "Ground Swell," "Ink Block and the Wedge," and "Northern Safari" show they can still run on nervous energy when they choose, and Hyndman's guitar work slices deep on these cuts, while the simulated locked-groove coda of the title track is a bracing testament to their continued commitment to noise. Does Down Tools represent a kinder, gentler approach for Mush, or is it the sound of a band catching their breath as they pause to mourn the loss of a friend and collaborator? The real answer isn't likely to come until they record with new guitarist Myles Kirk, but taken on its own merits, Down Tools shows Mush can smooth down their surfaces a bit and still sound challenging and subversively witty, and as long as they do, they'll be worth hearing.