There’s a playful seriousness to mint mind and the lack of capitals in their name and song titles is their design not my slack proofing skills (the Word doc was awash with squiggly green and black lines). Rick McPhail (vocals/guitar/keyboards), Christian Klindworth (guitar) and Tim Wenzlick (drums) create a delicious, gritty caramel quality to their sound and like near mint from 2014, new release thoughtsicles is another swirling stew of power chords and catchy tunes. near mint had tracks like ‘i grew a beard’, ‘too many pictures not enough walls’ and ‘the dark side of light’ and was packaged in a beautifully designed cover with lyric sheet and pressed on cool mint-green vinyl. thoughtsicles is also peppered with great song titles such as ‘alcoholicity’, ‘i love a good queue’ and ‘brother, you’re not my brother’ and displays more tongue-in-cheek linguistic dexterity. Take the opening line of the album: “alcoholicity, sometimes i hate what you’ve done, you make me love what i’m hating, and make me hate what i love”. Drink makes us all contrarians: kind and cruel, geniuses and dicks, heroes and villains and as they say at the end “sometimes i hate what i love and all the things that you’ve done – i really fucked up again – that’s how i meet all my friends”.
The album is a frisky joy from start to finish. ‘a road best traveled’ starts with a glorious high-low guitar line and ‘brother, you’re not my brother’ cruises like a low-riding Black Maria topped off with a siren-like riff. ‘the hassle from the man’ is a frenetic bongo-driven nightmare about the grief of wanting to protest in the face of police aggression and ignorant politicians and this mood is carried over into ‘everyone is someone’ with its driving rhythmic beat and a pulling sensation like you are being sucked into an industrial K-hole. It’s not only the mid-point of the album but plays like it’s the emotional nadir of the album. If you were listening to the vinyl then you have reached the end of side one so you’d have a natural pause while you got up to turn the album over.
Side two starts with the tripped-out psychedelic feel of ‘thoughtsicles’ which seems like it is trying to realign the listeners’ chakras. It’s a glorious 10 minute musical mantra of hypnotic drone passages and allusions to the tedium of today’s ‘received wisdom’ with lines like “thoughtsicles filling up my head, i’d rather have a root canal instead” and “you talk about some fashion, a food pic on some blog, the public’s new reaction, to a starlet’s rescue dog. but thoughtsicles are massing in the corners of our minds, your narcissm’s [sic] tasking, it kills me every time” and it finishes on a refrain which sounds like ‘Road to Nowhere’ on Mogadons. The album ends with three tracks: ‘objects are closer than appearance’ with a crunchy chord and drum backing pierced by keyboards and a catchy vocal line and then the yin and yang tracks of ‘sleepyhead pt. 1 (pt.3 of the leisure trilogy)’ and ‘sleepyhead pt. 2 (pt.3 of the leisure trilogy)’. ‘part 1’ begins with a slithering prog-vibe and slightly atonal tune and defibrillates into ‘part 2’ which kicks off like a glam rocket piloted by Roxy Music.
thoughtsicles has fun and frowns and has managed to fold tons of joy into its angst. It has a whiff of DEVO and the compulsive energy of Stuart Copeland’s alter-ego Klark Kent (sadly underrated). mint mind are as refreshing as their name suggests and with what could be their trademark understatement describe themselves as ‘mostly fuzzy and sometimes trippy’. Definitely warm and fuzzy feels and well worth a trip to checkout both of their albums.
Review by Paul F Cook