The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Lines Redacted Hayley Scott , February 25th, 2021 09:18

Leeds post-punks Mush have returned. And they have brought the riffs. Hayley Scott smells a potential future classic

Since its epoch during the late 1970s, there have been myriad post-punk revivals, leading to a presumed cultural fatigue. The truth is, contemporary post-punk is as powerful, challenging and exciting as it’s ever been, and the reason why is simple: post-punk, like punk, has always lent itself to socio-political themes. It makes perfect sense: the very nature of politics is, like music, rooted in conflict and harmony.

An increasing number of bands are relying more on musicality, rather than lyrical content, to denote social and political upheaval. Like Black Country, New Road, Dry Cleaning, and Squid, Leeds trio Mush have mastered a sound that couldn’t belong to any other time than now. On Lines Redacted, guitars are sharper than shard glass, and lyrics weave between insipid and surreal via a characteristic vocal style that has become steadily more peculiar over time, sounding more Jonathan Richman than Jonathan Richman himself. Then, of course, there are the choppy, jagged instrumental techniques that sound like the musical equivalent of an anxiety attack.

Despite this, Mush’s second album traverses the reductive label of post-punk and takes it somewhere new via their interpretation of everything that informs them musically. It’s a political record, but one that belongs to Britain in 2021. Vocalist Dan Hyndman tackles mistruth and propaganda with sardonic wit. Political themes are obliquely alluded to as opposed to the on-the-nose approach of some older bands. Mush have negated their debut’s optimism in favour of just the kind of flippant cynicism you would expect from a band coming to terms with the world in which we now find ourselves. 

Even as far back as Mush’s first live show, one thing stood out: a melodic prowess and an understanding of the importance of a good, memorable riff. In part, that was thanks to the enviable talent of former band member Steven Tyson, who tragically passed away earlier this year. Tyson’s undeniable influence permeates Lines Redacted – from the apparent reverence for The Fall’s wiry tension to Cate Le Bon’s playful, sporadic moments of jaunty brilliance.

A band clearly hitting their stride, Mush have taken their influences and shattered the formula, piecing it back together with a 2021 perspective. ‘Blunt Instruments’ and ‘Seven Trumpets’ would give some of indie rock’s most esteemed luminaries a run for their money. In fact, it’s difficult to view Lines Redacted as anything other than a potential future classic.