Mugstar – Axis (2012)

Ah, those cheeky Scouse space rockers Mugstar. Around for the best part of a decade they’re practically veterans at this and here, on their 2012 offering Axis, they’re are at the top of their game. Beating around the bush less than their compadre’s, they cut to the chase while cutting the mustard. Songs generally hover about the 5 minute mark but they are all well used, no longueurs for needless frippery. Everything is here because is needs to be. There is an almost Gang Of Four economy at work.

From the openng strains of the Middle Eastern tinged ‘Black Mountain’ Mugstar come at you with a sheer fucking dynamism, all wonky angles and strange gait, it’s akin to being chased by a Terminator Peter Crouch. ‘Hollow Ox’ has a stately medieval feel backed by a robust machine groove, it’s like Hawkwind running a historical re-enactment society. ‘Tangerina’ is one of the most danceable bits of psych you will ever hear, combining a stark bass boogie with a Tom Verlaine solo tune on steroids. ‘In Earth’ is all brooding until it all goes a bit Rage Against The Machine. ‘Axis Modulator’ pummels along, powerful yet steady, like Brian Blessed driving a tractor. ‘Upturnsidedown’ has a stateliness reminiscent of Radar Men From The Moon with bass chunkier than gastro pub chips. Finally ‘Vehicles Of Spain’ gets its motorik 4/4 groove out and parties like Joy Divison jamming on happy hills.

Throughout there is a clarity, a focus, a diamond edged sheen that separates Mugstar apart. They are a cut above and not afraid to show it, with Steve Ashton’s drums being impressively varied. More than anything though, Axis is fun. A riot in fact. Top to bottom, brilliant.



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