Mouthbreather is duo Leo Robert Brill (guitars and vocals) and Joey Todd Burnah Jr. (billed as “drums and yelling”). Despite being only two people and recording in simple means they offer a big sound in the way of hardcore punk and grunge. But beneath the explosions of sound are ideas both witty and dark.
Bogus kicks off with “Free Won't,” which sets up the rest of the ride perfectly. The song questions why we're satisfied with inaction and why we choose to live the way we do, and clearly the band are uneasy with what they find: the disquieting strumming emphasizes the anxious delivery of the first line, “All too content with nothing/get off the couch and find your truth.” Before long we move into a nice melody from both the guitar and the singing with resurgences of screaming and big chords thrown in. By the two-minute mark we've metamorphosed into some sort of speed punk mish-mash before returning back to start. While the music goes through phases of temperance and disorder the vocals never lose their nervous edge.
In the early outing it becomes obvious that Bogus is equal parts anger and fear but where these emotions are directed at are all over the board. “Where's My Government?” is aptly enough frustrated with the powers that be. Here we find Mouthbreather's charm for taking what some would consider obvious and rebuilding it in a way that's fresh. It's easy enough to hit your listener over the head when writing in protest of anything, but there's an air of humor in the images used here (“Where's the government? / At home with its milk and cookies.”) “Modern Life” paints a tragedy as something much more comfortable, perhaps offering excuses as to why so many seem to ignore it (“Underneath the bridge / homeless people live / human caterpillars that are huddled up for winter.”).
For my money the album's standout moments are also the most bizarre. “Agoraphobe” is an exercise in personal interpretation but strangely enough is the album's most relaxed song with a drawn out delivery and a bouncing melody outside the group's signature breakdowns. “Pearl” runs a little over a minute long and to match the frantic delivery of the sorta anti-love song we get some great drum fills. “Flake” stands out as the album's most straightforward piece, an alt-rock number that balances between near-silence and crashing around with lyrics equally self-loathing and cathartic.
There's so much happening on Bogus—the thumping beats, the sonic walls, the sparse melodies, the dangerous words—that it's easy to forget at times that it's only two people playing music. Mouthbreather have succeeded in creating a sound larger than themselves.
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