Mustangs and Madras

Mustangs and Madras continues to play a passionate brand of emo that's woefully (and refreshingly) out of step with the times. From first listen, the act's latest release recalls a bygone era when scenester kids took style cues from the geek chic of Rivers Cuomo rather than the guy-liner of Gerard Way. And throughout La Lechuza, Mustangs braids together careening guitar lines and high-pitched staccato vocals with thunderous drumming, evoking Fugazi as filtered through Giant's Chair. Frontman Nick Krier provides an unexpected highlight with his dexterous sax work on "Now It's Fucking Saturday," which offers flashes of Morphine. But Lechuza's most arresting moments come during "Paradox of Grace," when the frantic 911 call placed by Patty Nielsen during the Columbine tragedy is sampled. Since the song almost seems to come from the perpetrators' perspective, these snippets seem incongruous -- but then, lines like "We put the false face forward/Smiled so insincerely/And now it's all just muscle memory" could also be seen as the reaction of a community forced to carry on in the days that followed. Either way, the effect is chilling, adding depth to an already riveting album.

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