MIEN: MIEN (Rocket Recordings)

Psych rock big wheels from both sides of the Atlantic team up to create excellent debut

Released Apr 6th, 2018 via Rocket Recordings / By Erick Mertz
MIEN: MIEN (Rocket Recordings) Some of the advance press on MIEN’s self-titled debut album (pronounced 'mean' in care you were curious) indicates that the band was never sure why they got together. Ostensibly to make new music, that’s usually my muttered reply, but I find these kinds of claims curious, especially when the resulting project stands out as otherworldly amazing as this record, one of the happiest accidents on the 2018 alt-rock release slate.

The band MIEN is comprised of regular members from The Horrors, Elephant Stone and Black Angels. The ten track album kicks off on the lightly, hypnotic, Earth Moon which is built around a sensuous sitar introduction that kicks over into a groovy, krautrock beat. On one of the band’s potential singles, (I’m Tired Of) Western Shouting the beat comes loose to the point of jangly, full of neo-industrial percussion, while the vocals repeat the song title. It feels as though the singer is also out in search of the key phrase’s meaning. Much of the album is constructed out of electronics, like the nightmarish You Dreamt and the astral ambience of Other which feels like something out of a Philip K. Dick adaptation. For anyone who feels as though psych-rock/electronica has all but played itself into irrelevance, Hocus Pocus is as patient as it is trippy, cycling back and forth across a drugged out line that starts out as a cliché but quickly becomes a haunting omen.

One of the coolest aspects of MIEN is the vocal play, lyrics warbled, at times becoming nonsense, while at other times they wind yarns of psychedelic mysticism. On Echolalia named for the meaningless repetition of another’s words, often associated with a psychotic condition, the vocals replicate that effect and the result is pure witchcraft. It is one of the most beguiling tracks on the record, but that could be said of anything on the album. On the closer, a reprise of Earth Moon the band sprawls an acoustic guitar out to the finish, a resonation of the album’s somber, dreamlike mood.

There is hardly a forgettable song on MIEN. More than anything, the album’s conclusion is really only an excuse to lift the needle, bring it back, reset from track one. In the interest of full disclosure, the most difficult aspect of reviewing this record was finding the right number of listens to stop and start writing the damn review. There are so many nooks and crannies on MIEN and so many fanciful directions that it’s hard to know when to say when.