MOUSE EAT MOUSE have been awa’ in their hidey hole in the corner of the hoose, nurturing a path away from the trap and into the cheese factory.
But they’re a coming out noo: CD Shade has his wordsmithery hat on again, so let’s listen in to the latest episode of lucid anger in Toxic Tails, which follows the fair lauded Mair Licht (2006) and the more subdued Woof from three years ago. See review of Mair Licht here
This self-released album comes in the midst of a British Conservative government intent on pursuing class war, and follows the defeat for the separatists in the Scottish independence referendum (at least in the short-term, the notion of a separate Scotland is more pertinent than ever).
Mouse Eat Mouse have been trimmed to a duo, of Matt Lehane, described on the cover as “multi-instrumentalist and music” and CD Shade, the Rabbie Burns-inflected writer and vocalist, a bald eagle of a colossus, whispering or bellowing the lyrics with an innate passion lacking in so many X-Factor lite-ish acts. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, MEM are from Scotland, the west coast to be slightly more precise.
Toxic Tails is a monologue of writing, a journalistic inspection of the modern British state, and, in consequence, places and people way beyond the seas and coasts of the Isles.
Extraordinary Rendition, for example, tackles the dubious method of abducting a suspect, putting a hood over their head, and whisking them off to another country to have sharp things intruded where they shouldn’t be. No trial is required, no explanation given.
In hushed, piercing tones over lolling guitars and piano, Shade notes the British government’s excuses at defending its involvement in such inhumane tactics as nonsensical. “The UK government claimed that as the interrogators didn’t enjoy their work it couldn’t be torture”.
Arsepirational, meanwhile, hammers nails into the neoliberal apologists who allow their tongues to spoon out endless verbal diarrhoea to justify transferring billions from the vulnerable to the unemployed, undeserving rich. The “fiscal jihadists” are, Shade laments, creating a “modern day Dickensian hoplessness” where foodbanks are the ultimate in social control.
It seems quite pertinent listening to this as junior doctors in Britain go on strike to defend the NHS and patients from a government of multi-millionaires trying to divest an essential service of funds to the extent that people will have to flock to costly, dubious private providers, some of whom they and their cronies have vested interests in.
Arseperational belongs to a tetralogy that includes Patchy News, an acerbic critique on the barrage of negativity from the BBC and most of the printed media for their “pro-Unionist cant,” and slanted editorials.
Blaming the media is as old as prostitution so it was no surprise that Scottish independence campaigners took such umbrage at the slanted coverage of the referendum. However, that in itself does not explain why 55 per cent of those who voted nae in September 2014 did so. Not all of them reads the Daily Express.
Shade returns to the issue of “self-determination” in Birth Of A Notion, the closing chapter of an intense and cathartic effort. From his mouth come plenty of whispered, feel good words like revitalisation and renaissance and various other words beginning with the two-lettered suffix.
None of this is in any way delivered down the throat a la William Bragg; while the band itself describe it as “extreme folk” (it’s hard to think of even such a concept) these are thoughtful diatribes delivered with care. It is folk though, but with an extra dollop of melody, and no tank tops.
Fat cats beware: these mice are fucking angry.
Get Toxic Tails from bandcamp: