Mumble Tide’s new mini-album, Everything Ugly, is a pleasing conundrum as it slips, slides, ebbs and flows between styles. The eight tracks that make up this release are all wrapped up in the same woozy warmth but like Baskin Robbins there are many flavours to get your taste buds excited. Mumble Tide are Gina Leonard and Ryan Rogers, with the former advertising for a bass player and getting with the latter, a twofer of both a musical and life companion.
Some tracks, like the opener ‘Good 4 Me’ or ‘Too Far Back’ have the feel of a lightly stoned Alanis Morrissette and the whole EP undulates with a charming bitter-sweetness that feels like someone took sandpaper to The Cranberries. Having found each other, Gina and Ryan set about finding their sound and did this by making Mumble Tide a “judgement free zone where nothing was out of bounds” and where you could use “crap Casio keyboards bought from dentists on Facebook Marketplace” or “phone recordings of squabbling swans” and this freedom has meant the band avoided the kind of sweet-toothness that would have sent them back to the Casio dentist. There is a benign aural chaos to what surrounds the core of vocals, guitar, bass, drum machine. It never derails anything, just enhances tracks that can waft in lush steel guitar or scuff up a track like ‘Noodle’ with storm fronts of distortion behind a soaring chorus, bring wonky horns and booming syn drums to ‘Sucker’ or add pyroclastic guitar-spasms to ‘Breakfast’. They can also break our hearts with a pearl like ‘Bulls Eye’ which supports an aching vocal delivery with just acoustic guitar and feathery drones.
Mumble Tide are expert at wrapping their songs with a pleasant shimmer, a bit like getting day-drunk when you are happily buzzed with the sun above you, good friends around you and a cold beer in front of you. Gina Leonard’s voice sits at the centre of this kaleidoscope of sounds, friendly and whimsical, like the vocal combination of a quizzical frown and a half-smile. The band seem to see the world differently from most people. Theirs is a pop landscape that has convention at its core but blends the familiar and unfamiliar, embracing joyful disarray and yet managing to come out with an outstanding set of coherent songs. The way Mumble Tide interpret life is the musical equivalent of virtual reality where the band seem to delight in overlaying the world with delightful possibilities of the gloriously impossible.
Review by Paul F Cook