Today, following a successful appearance with Priests and The Beths at the Great Escape festival in Brighton this past weekend, Mush have shared two videos for “Operation Vaken” and “Litvinenko” from their recently announced debut EP Induction Party (out via Memphis Industries on May 31st).
“Litvinenko”, the EP’s opening track and lead single, was written after the group developed an interest in historical KGB poisonings. Its accompanying video riffs on this theme, depicting vocalist / guitarist Dan Hyndman resorting to ingenious methods to avoid being assassinated by the rest of the band. These include disguising himself as a DVD of a seminal 1990s American sitcom; one of the oldest tricks in the spy book yet one which the eponymous fallen ex-KGB agent Alexander ignored in 2006.
“Operation Vaken” takes its name from the controversial “go home” vans rolled out by the British government in 2013, part of the then Home Secretary Theresa May’s wider strategy to create a “hostile environment” for those living illegally in the UK. Unlike the loosely conceptual “Litvinenko” video, the “Operation Vaken” video is a bizarre, mock performance. Hyndman says of the video and song “we just wanted it to look weird, fun and have a sort of anti-continuity thing running through it. It’s probably the more directly political track on the record. It is also musically the weirdest. One of the interesting things about “Operation Vaken” is the name itself which has various connotations relating to the Third Reich. Very strange name for a British operation, not that I’m a conspiracy theorist or owt.”
Recorded at Glasgow’s thriving Green Door Studio with Ronan Fay (also guitarist of ascendant Scottish rockers Sweaty Palms), the EP’s six tracks follow the proud lineage of art-rock from both sides of the pond. Mush cite Pavement, Sonic Youth, Television and The Fall as their primary influences.
Mush have idiosyncrasies all of their own and Induction Party is far more than an endearing homage to the bands listed above. Hyndman’s excitable half-sung, half-yelped vocal snipes and lolls around each song as though sometimes even he doesn’t know where the melody’s going to go next. There’s a sense that not a second of music’s been wasted, a refinement in the band’s song writing process that means nothing exceeds four minutes.
There’s both consolidation and progression at play on these new releases. The four-piece – vocalist / guitarist Hyndman, guitarist Steve Tyson, bassist Nick Grant and drummer Phil Porter – are now cemented as more of a song writing entity than the “noise project” they would describe their early incarnation. Much of Induction Party hones the slanted take on social and political trends found on ten minute long debut single “Alternative’s Facts” and its follow-up, BBC 6 Music-playlisted “Gig Economy”.