Mwahaha – MwahahaPosted by Kat Taylor
If you were expecting a fiendish and sorcerous soundtrack of villainy, you’ll have to keep looking. The evil laugh of Mwahaha precedes a band, an album, and a label that are paradoxically sensitive and good-natured. Although heavy on the drums and reverb, the self-titled, topsy-turvy psychedelic rock album is about as scary as the Flaming Lips (who are admittedly rather frightening if you have a heart condition and are 70).
Perhaps the four-piece band from Oakland has a devious underlying plot, but they don’t seem quick to reveal it. The quick and poppy “Poinsetta” warns “Beware of darkness / But avoid too much sun” and works in some edgy guitars that keep it from being too squeaky-clean.
The relatively minimalist track, “Love,” is the attention-getter of the album, thanks in part to Merril Garbus of tUnE-yArDs fame. He doesn’t steal the show, however. Garbus chimes in perfectly with singer Ross Peacock’s reflection of his “not so good period in a relationship,” as mentioned to MTV Hive.
“Love” seamlessly segues into “Lime Tree,” which is comprised of a strong, steady instrumental build and little use of vocals. The transition is somewhat reminiscent of the timeless radio-friendly Pink Floyd song, “Us and Them,” which is almost always followed by “Any Colour You Like.” In either case, it should be a punishable crime to play one track without the other.
Despite recreating a classic formula, the latter parts of the album prove things aren’t always what they seem. “We Build” begins with inspirational words and bright melodies, but dissolves into a somewhat chaotic rambling. “Rivers and Their Teeth” has the same type of energy to start, but just when your head is nodding to the steady beat, the song drops off entirely. Somehow knowing that audiences would just space out to the music for another few minutes, the band almost mockingly wedges in the simple sound of swishing water from a “Sounds of Nature”-inspired compilation. Lastly, the first half of “Sleep Deep” is covered in glitch, but gives way to a smooth, pretty ending.
The grand finale is a strong 11-minute rock anthem. The long, winding guitars and low hum of vocals at the end set the standard for the modern psychedelic genre. That, and it’s 11 freaking minutes long. It would be admirable and appreciated if they could make another album that consisted solely of this.
While there’s no getting around the inconsistencies, Mwahaha has more high points than low. Although not particularly boundary-pushing nor forthcoming and diabolical, Mwahaha delivers something unexpected in an unexpected way. Their implicit sound effortlessly takes root and expands for miles in the blink of an eye, making rock fans feel lucky to have these evil geniuses in their midst.