“What came first, the music or the misery,” asked John Cusack’s character, Rob, in the 2000 film High Fidelity. The same question applies to Swell, the debut from Mosey Jones. Recorded in a basement, Swell is filled with songs of suffering and heartbreak.
Formed in 2011, Mosey Jones seems to be a band that’s been together much longer than a year. The Brooklyn-based trio consists of siblings Eamon, on lead vocals and guitars and Caitlin McMullen on vocals and drums, and bassist Peter Quirk. In their short existence, the band has released the 5-track EP Espionage Act, a pair of folk songs, even recorded a rap mixtape entitled Skankster Demo.
While artists are constantly trying to reinvent themselves and the indie emo trio tries to build on the past, emulating their heroes from the 90’s era such as Blink 182, and even showing flashes of early 90’s emo. The songs are catchy and upbeat yet sincere. The lo-fi genre in recent years has grown a bit repetitive and has become a war of who can sound the nosiest rather than focusing on the songwriting. Mosey Jones pays no mind to the noise war and crafts a well thought out album. On the track “Leaving”, McMullen (Eamon) wails: “because everyone drifts away from each other/ But I don’t want to be like the others.” Mcmullen’s singing is relentless and heavy, making much of the topics of the songs seem autobiographical and personal, with songs like “Skank Finatra” and “Nosferatu”. “Take Me Home” is one of the handfuls of tracks where both McMullens are on the mic. The interweaving vocals of the siblings are paired up with the uptempo percussion, proving to be a great combination and one of the Swell‘s best tracks.
Loyal fans of the band already know the playfulness of the band (see Skanster Demo), and it shows on the album closer “Laid It On Your Girl”. Perhaps being the least somber song of the album. Caitlin recalls an encounter at a bar with a girl, who turned out to be someone’s girlfriend. The track is humorous, catchy and a nice closer to the album. Swell is filled with nostalgic, and catchy songs fueled by heartbreak, sorrow, and angst. It’s like they’re happy to be sad.