If music is a form of escapism, then it’s surely at its most apt in that capacity when the escapists inhabit a region which is plotting an escape of its own. MOURN hail from Catalonia, where the pro-independence movement has gained traction in recent times. The shadowy second full-length effort from the punk-leaning foursome – with a crucially melodic edge – may not be a separatist soundtrack, but it possesses a fiercely independent spirit.
Breakneck instrumental opener ‘Flee’ could scarcely be more appropriately titled – ‘Ha, Ha, He.’ comes and goes in a 26-minute flash – and it sets the tone for what follows, one of ominous urgency. It does, at times, threaten to spiral out of control, but the brevity of its tracks reigns in the chaos. ‘The Unexpected’ and ‘Storyteller’ both ascend to highly-charged but somewhat short-lived peaks.
There’s a sense that MOURN are in something of a hurry to get ‘Ha, Ha, He.’ over and done with. Briefest numbers ‘President Bullshit’ and ‘Irrational Friend’ end before they’ve barely begun, the latter a touch too raucous for its own good. Where the short and snappy rock song is concerned, this is a band who are yet to quite hone their craft
‘Ha, Ha, He.’ frequently hints at the makings of something truly spectacular – ‘Howard and ‘Second Sage’ give plenty of reason to rave with excitement – but it often lacks the absolute finishing touches. It mustn’t, however, go unmentioned that MOURN are yet to all reach their twenties, and to already have two studio albums under their belts is laudable in itself. The latest, though, feels nigglingly incomplete, and whilst they haven’t stumbled at the unshakeable hurdle of the difficult second album, the ‘Wow’ factor of their debut has since diminished. Thankfully, there’s enough youthful grit and promise on show here to suggest that that spectacular something is on the horizon.