Mauno like to label their own sonic personality as ‘weird pop-rock’, which is apparently a bi-product of calling
Nova Scotia home; a place where not a lot happens and when it does, it happens very slowly. According to frontman Nick Everett “Halifax is a weird town. At times it’s really boring, which I find useful for writing songs not being distracted” On the outfit’s new record ‘Really Well’ the feeling of battling boredom, allowing the mind to wander and the notion of daydreaming are rife; it’s a hazy album that’s constructed on abstract textures, with songs that sound more like jams rather than fully formed tracks.
For the most part ‘Really Well’ saunters along in its own fug, the audio equivalent of when someone says “sorry, I was miles away”. It’s this aloofness that makes Mauno’s a varied listening experience; in one respect the calm, laidback chimes and soothing vocals from Everett and bassist/singer Eliza Niemi create a comforting safe haven for the listener. However, this can also be to the album’s detriment, as some moments tend to aimlessly trudge into nothingness where not a lot seems to happen – you might say these occurrences are true Nova Scotia instances. This pendulum swing is typified by two ends of ‘Really Well’s spectrum; there’s the calm yet frantic mathy fidget of ‘Notice’, where it sounds like two tracks being played at the same time (in a good way!). It’s here where Mauno’s appetite for the peculiar shines, thanks to its jerky drums and staccato rhythms. The same can be said of ‘Take Care’, fronted by Niemi’s stop-start vocals and tip-tapping nuances; again, the band’s penchant for the strange rises to the top, it’s as if the track is being played in the wrong order and backwards – again, in a good way. However, the likes of ‘Summertime’ and ‘Pouring Up’ are where ‘Really Well’s minimal arrangements lack any real impact. As with some of the album, these tracks appear skeletal, and lack true skin and sinew, it’s as if the jams have been captured but not completely fleshed out.
It’s often said, for better or for worse, we’re products of our own environment and with ‘Really Well’, an album born from a weird, boring town, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Words and Thoughts of Adam Williams
‘Really Well’ by Mauno will be available on August 2nd, via Tin Angel Records and various DSPs