MAUMAUMAU is an LA-based, Mexican singer-songwriter and producer and Meow Meow Meow is his debut EP. There’s more bounce per ounce on this release than a basketball factory and the songs are packed with wit, intelligence and a strong alto voice with a light touch, like anti-gravity honey. The tracks are clean and bright and packed full of crisp guitars, keyboard squelch, popping bass lines and soaring tunes.
The first of the five is ‘Curveball Whip Cream’ an anthem for the neurotic. At the start we only jumping bass distortion, over which MAUMAUMAU muses: “I think I’m pretty good for a mess, never best man but mediocre at best. I think I’m pretty cool for a wreck, I never get picked first but I’m first to obsess. I never do wrong, I never do wrong, I don’t do enough right correctly”. None of this lyrical joy prepares you for the dopamine rush you get from chorus which makes you sprout wings and take flight. I found it hard not to take my hands off the computer keyboard and start waving them in the air.
A hardworking chorus also features in ‘Famous’ which start on a two-guitar riff that would put a smile on Robert Fripp’s face and processes along at head-nodding speed. You’re walking down the street, turn a corner and then WHAM! the chorus explodes like a mountain suddenly appeared round that corner. ‘Distracted’ is a melancholy song that spends its time clutching a heart necklace and staring up at luminous stars on the bedroom ceiling. It’s a velveteenager’s ballad that aches with unrequited “Millennial Blues”. ‘Happy’ starts full of menace with swelling keyboards and alarm call synths before the drop and then we get MAUMAUMAU’s aching cry “I just want to make you happy” which sounds more like the ragged optimism of someone who’s not so sure he can make this happen. The EP closes with ‘Alright’ a lick of jazz-tinged guitar at the beginning and a laidback hip-hop feel throughout. It covers the small things in life that keep us afloat when the big stuff can seem insurmountable: “we’re gonna be alright and if we’re not then we’ll be fine”. It’s a fine message to end on.
MAUMAUMAU has managed to avoid squeaky clean pop and has not overpacked the luggage of his songs. All the sounds are placed perfectly in the mix, like a Michelin starred chef placing elements on the plate with tweezers, He seems to understand that when your voice is this good you hold it like Cape Canaveral until it’s time to launch and then use all that power to aim for the stars. And, like Saint Motel did with ‘My Type’ is can only be a matter of time before ‘Curveball Whip Cream’ gets picked up for uplifting TV clip reels. MAUMAUMAU and Meow Meow Meow = MOREMOREMORE.
Review by Paul F Cook