- Label: 'Keep Me In Your Heart Records'
- Genre: 'Indie'
- Release Date: '19th February 2018'
The headline is the fact that for ‘Replica Figures’, John Mouse has reunited with Steve Black (Sweet Baboo) for the first time in some 15 years, and the fact he’s also pulled in Paul Sheppard, former guitarist of early 90’s indie band Hopper (who were signed to Tony Wilson’s Factory Too records). However, I’m more interested in the idea that, according to the blurb, ‘the album circulates around the concept of memories, different memories, how they are created, the lack of memory, enforced and false memories...’
Memory is inconsistent, unreliable. History is forged from an assemblage of narratives pulled from memory. What are the actual facts? What, and whom, can you believe?
John’s comments about the recording of the album are illuminating: “We wanted the album to have restrictions in place, a limited palette of instruments and sounds, and most importantly a vocal performance to capture emotion and the moment… We are so used to listening to perfect vocals and I wanted to create a snapshot, much like a memory.”
The vibe around ‘Replica Figures’ is one of immediacy: most of the sings are simple and stripped back, both in terms of structure and arrangement. At times, the songs feel a shade flimsy and throwaway but on understanding the context and intent, it’s not such a crime: ‘Replica Figures’ is a Polaroid capturing a moment in time.
‘The End of Mankind’ opens with a lo-fi post-punk electro-pop vibe and instrumental set-up, with blank monotone verses depicting bleak scenes give way to an incongruously jaunty chorus, which somehow works. Mouse does a good line in jaunty choruses, as it happens.
The key signatures on ‘Replica Figures’ are retro drum machine, analogue synths, jangly indie guitars, pop nous and quirky twists. There are very strong traces of 90s indie in the mix, but John has a whole heap of other bits and pieces up his metaphorical sleeve, the strongest of which is a knack for melody. Even when delivered wonky, off-kilter, the vocal melodies are enticing, engaging, and enjoyable.
An honest, unedited document that preserves actual events in the form of the recordings, and not a tarted-up, refined, and polished to artificial perfection rendering, ‘Replica Figures’ isn’t artifice, but a snippet of reality, as it happened.