Through the endless bands pulling from the retro world of psychedelic rock, only a few embrace the aesthetic wholeheartedly. For their self-titled release, MIEN decidedly filter their unique and often rhythmic writing through a sound that covers every facet of vintage rock while offering something new to the genre. While this album is inherently pulling from handfuls of influences, there’s something nuanced in the direction they end up taking it.
There’s a lush and exotic psychedelic wash of sound throughout the record that colours tracks like “Earth Moon” as a wondrous dive into rhythm and vintage instrumentation. Where many tracks simply tackle the experimental guitars however, nail the flutes, sitar sounds and even more minuscule percussive sounds for an immersive aesthetic. “Black Habit” embraces the bass for a lo-fi and shadowy track that oozes with menacing energy. Though this track feels a lot more meditative and droning than others on the album, it manages to maintain its hold nonetheless.
As MIEN lets loose their rhythmic barrage on “(I’m Tired Of) Western Shouting” you can start to hear the Jefferson Airplane influence underneath its intoxicating grooves. Their tight focus on bass and drums here however really open up how they use their sound, and make their hypnotic vocals much more bizarre and interesting. “You Dreamt” takes on a much more electronic underbelly, as they make a much more abstract mood-piece in their mastery of tone. Though this track may prove a little abrasive for some, the oddly fascinating way they tackle their music here is marvelous.
“Other” explores this energy through a more thematic and score-like lens, as MIEN slowly waver their sound to give an unnerving feeling to the listener. While it’s definitely a surprising move halfway through the record, there’s something terrifying in the sound they make. This heavy aesthetic comes through on their more pop-infused tracks like “Hocus Pocus” as they find a magical middle ground of tone experimentation and dynamic writing. As they let the rhythm section slowly take the song over, there’s a feeling of destruction in their noise that grows as the song does.
Despite its subdued beat, “Ropes” slowly morphs into a haunting vocal piece laden in sitars and dissonant keyboard hooks. Here however it feels as though they hit their stride early, and don’t leave much room for the song to evolve. “Echolalia” however stays unpredictable and powerfully genre defiant as it mixes some early 2000s punk electronica into its brooding energy. It’s the harmonious tumbles of vocal riffs however that really make this track one of the album’s best.
In their most Black Angel’s moments “Odessey” finds MIEN in a rush of synths and bass, and digital feedback. Once the beat takes over this cosmic journey, they ride its energy out into a blaze of glory. Unfortunately “Earth Moon (Reprise) can’t capture this same spirit, as it’s interesting slow-burn just takes too long to pay off. Though its pounding outro is intriguing, it just isn’t enough given the wait to get there.
Words by Owen Maxwell