Mourn are the teenage, or nearly still teenage, quartet of singer/guitarists Carla Pérez Vas and Jazz Rodríguez Bueno, bassist Leia Rodríguez and drummer Antonio Postius.
Although they suggest the subtle, and constantly evolving, world of Post-Rock in its Chicago heyday as a major influence, the music MOURN make is all together more immediate than that would suggest. Guitar-lines are a blur of ragged thrashing and angular riffery, rhythms are constantly moving with jarring tempo shifts and the vocals go from lush and harmonious tones, to good old fashioned yelling. Think Shellac meets Throwing Muses, or for the more contemporary listener Kiran Leonard meets Hinds.
MOURN are from the city of Cabrils in Catalonia. The first mention of Cabrils can be traced back to 1037, although it only became an independent town in 1827 when it left the jurisdiction of the neighbouring castle, Vilassar de Dalt. The city is traditionally associated with the growth of Oranges, however in recent years that has largely been replaced the growth of flowers, in particular roses and carnations. Famous residents of Cabrils include footballer Gerard Piqué, and that’s about the only one we can find.
MOURN released their self-titled debut album back in 2014, with Captured Tracks handling the international release and Sones in their native Spain. The follow up to that album, Ha, Ha, He came out last week via Captured Tracks internationally, although legal wrangles are currently holding up the release in Spain (you can read a bit that over at Captured Tracks Facebook page)
We’re so often told nobody makes interesting guitar music anymore, we’re almost prone to believe it, but listening to MOURN, you realise that will never be the case. It may fall out of fashion, MOURN certainly don’t sound like the charts, but there’ll still be people picking up guitars, and there’ll still be new players infusing the instrument with new, and intriguing, forms of angsty-energy.
It’s the energy that hits you with MOURN; it’s there in the yelped dual-voice harmonies, there in the jarring stop-start rhythms, even there in the gentle break downs. Even as they drop things back, you feel they’re just a gear change away from slapping you round the face with a heavy-riff or an impassioned rage-fuelled yelp. MOURN are not an easy band to classify, but they certainly have the energy of the more interesting end of post-hardcore, and bear comparison with the ilk of At The Drive In, Fugazi or Your Code Name Is: Milo.
Lyrically they’re sometimes obtuse, but equally intriguing. In a recent interview with DIY, they suggested tracks on this album are about topics as diverse as the Spanish Government (President Bullshit), personifying your education institute as a person in its own right (Howard), accidentally killing a worm (Evil Dead) and using Legend Of Zelda to tackle feelings of loneliness (Second Sage). Certainly bands have covered considerably less intriguing topics in the past.
That MOURN have lifted the name of their new album, and the chorus to penultimate track Irrational Friend, from a William Blake poem from the collection Songs of Innocence and Experience, is entirely apt. Getting to the point where they can release this album has been an almighty effort for musicians at such an early stage in their career, and certainly they know far more about the inner workings of a record contract than anyone should have to find out. What shines through on this record though is also their youthful exuberance, they don’t sound down-trodden by the experience, they sound invigorated. Ultimately MOURN have decided to laugh, or even scream, Ha, Ha He, and move on.
It might be a little too heavy going for some, and certainly it doesn’t fit neatly into the modern music landscape. That said for the sheer ambition, determination and energy on display, it’s hard to not at least admire what MOURN have achieved.
Ha, Ha, He is out now via Captured Tracks.