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Maus Haus 

Lark Marvels (Pretty Blue Presents)

Wednesday, Oct 29 2008
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Traces of Stereolab linger in the bleary vintage synths and breathy vocal harmonies that open Maus Haus' "Rigid Breakfast," the first track on the group's debut full-length, Lark Marvels. But the San Francisco six-piece is too restless to stay in one place for long, and this album proves scattershot throughout, from the haunted rave-ups of "Secret Deals" to the funky garage stomp of "Dead Keys Drop." Everything feels unhinged on Lark Marvels; there's a jokey nonchalance to the vocals, and the percussion often manifests as a confined clatter. This is pop bent through the surreal lens of krautrock and cosmic psych. Maus Haus lays down a thick, disorienting atmosphere without smothering the sugary melodies and off-kilter rhythms. Dig the dark, glitchy vibe that sets the scene for "Irregular Hearts," every bit as likeable as the singsong playfulness of standout "We Used Technology (But Technology Let Us Down)." Birthed by improvised sessions, Lark Marvels found form in ideas diced and reworked, which explains its puzzle-like song structures. Luckily for Maus Haus, its nutty experiments don't just work; they shudder in a wild-eyed life of their own.

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Doug Wallen

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