VG+ is the third album of light and dark indie fuzz from Mint Mind, with the title referring to the Goldmine Grading Standard for the evaluation of used vinyl records and means “Very Good +”. It’s also a capital letter departure from 2018’s near mint and 2020’s thoughtsicles. The band are Rick McPhail who grew up in Maine, USA but who and now lives in Hamburg where he plays alongside Christian Klindworth and Friedel Viegener.
The band say the album is about “anger, optimism, a politician with little fingers or influencers who secretly lead a normal life” and covers such topics as the environment, women’s and LGBTQIA+ rights, and why different generations might share the same views but struggle to find unity. This has all been distilled into a gritty tension which is baked into the songs on VG+ and Phail says “I’m a polite and cheerful person but I need moments to vent and that’s what I do in my music. I usually get angry about the same things as young people. A lot of the things that suck today sucked in the 80s and it wasn’t easier to fight them back then.”
The songs are underpinned by the pulsating grip of bass, guitar and drums, often locked together and chunking along like heavy machinery or a goth Pacman munching his way all the ghosts. Mint Mind are a gang that know how to build menace with their instruments while simultaneously offering lyrical delight with phrases like “contemporary jaguars”, “incendiary film stars”, and lines like “if you’re looking some proof, then refer to my next excuse”.
The band’s sound has a pinch of glam rock swagger on tracks like ‘Contemporary Jaguars’, ‘Glow’ and ‘Youth And I’, and the dark tongue-in-cheek amusement of The Cure at their grungiest-best on the helter-skelter fuzz of ‘Gold Card Member’, ‘Tiny Fingers’ and ‘Stratospheric Numbers’. They have also brought synthesiser into the gravel pit for this record and it adds a brooding quality to tracks like ‘No Vision’ as well as icy swirls on the epic ‘In The Sweet Land Of Mint’ which closes the album.
Mint Mind create a glorious tension between the low rictus rumble of their playing and the caustic, often-tongue-in-cheek lyrics. They are fuzzbox optimists even if their smile is often through gritted teeth.
Review by Paul F Cook