Review Summary: This album is a chaotic and melodic beast. Nothing more to say.
The Number Twelve Looks Like You are no strangers around here in Jersey. After all, they are New Jersey natives. They even claimed a tight grip, fan base wise, on the northern part of the state, but it has diminished as the years have passed. Possible reasons: Fans turning to other genres, growing out of the music, or they did not like the direction they were taking the band. Well this is an album that could bring back old fans and a wide spread chunk of new fans. Back when they played shows, it was almost a given that the small venues they played would sell out and recently, there is just a lack of a fan base. Mongrel
gives everyone something to appreciate with a genre-bending album filled with the best work The Number Twelve Looks Like You has released. Their sound has evolved leaps above their last full-length album. Their new drummer, ex-Negative Hate, is impressive to say the least with creative beats and great technicality. The guitar riffs are catchy at the appropriate moments and brutal when need be. Throughout the record, the bass is clearly audible while the vocals are intimidating at times. As far as the whole record is concerned, the songs have become more complex and unpredictable. Another improvement is the production is excellent and sound quality better than ever in a spazzy and chaotic atmosphere. The bottom line, this album is just better than anything they could have dreamed.
There have been arguments as to whether people consider their music “actual music,” and to be frank, that is an ignorant statement. Simply because a band does not follow verse-chorus format or they change themes consistently, does not mean it is not music. Maybe it is the comfort of knowing a section of the song, which you can sing along to more than once. Another explanation to consider this to be not music would be it is not generic. If it is one of those are the cases, sorry. This album is organized and all over the place at the same time, but as crazy as it may sound, they make it work. While it may not be standard, there are plenty of other bands doing the same thing as far as mixing up song structures. Change is needed in the music industry and it is happening all around us. The Number Twelve Looks Like You continue to change music with each album. While they do maintain their specific sound, (knowing that no other band could be classified alongside them) they are making their music more mature. The lyrics have stepped up considerably and the vocals have become cleaner and at the same time coarser. While many times the vocals may be deemed incomprehensible, they work with the music that is played. “Grandfather” would be a clear example of the blending of their vocals with what is being played and making sense of it. Justin and Jesse stick with their higher pitched screams and lower pitched growls that they have used in the past with the song “Alright, I Admit It... It Was A Whore House” and group singing like in “The Weekly Wars.”
The album starts on a good foot forward. After all, first impressions are good, and the first song off this album makes a strong case. “Imagine Nation Express” begins with a quirky funky guitar riff. It progresses in at about the one-minute mark into a fabulous bluesy guitar solo that goes off into some great melodic guitar and vocal work for the rest of the song practically. The song shows me they really know how to combine the elements that they have learned all into one song. Other melodic gems include “Jay Walking Backwards” and “Grandfather.” The introduction into “Jay Walking Backwards” starts serene. A dual guitar with delayed effects starts as it wades. As it continues, the moment the double bass of the drum enters, the song becomes so full. The instruments could not be better throughout the entire song with varying infectious riffs with the vocals at a reasonable loud scream throughout. They try something they have done before with the vocals at the very end are layered with clean vocals over screaming as the song builds out into the next song. When it starts, the tone on the guitar at times is elegant and catchy while the bass guitar has some funk moments during “Grandfather.” The entire song goes through phases of different genres and it is hard to keep track and the outro is even, dare I say, power metal-esque guitar. “Paper Weight Pigs” ultimately proves the unpredictability of their music. It begins with ridiculous drumming, sloppy bass, and messy guitar work. It soon maintains composer as it goes into a palm-muted section and then with the slightest of guitar distortion, a full out flamenco acoustical guitar solo. The guitar work is simply beautiful and then as quickly as it sweeps you off your feet, the aggressiveness kicks right back in. Speaking of aggressive, the malicious songs “Sleeping With the Fishes, See?” and “The Try (thank you)” fit the mold. While “Sleeping With The Fishes, See?” eases up at the end with a soothing clean vocal ending, “The Try (thank you)” is mayhem in two minutes time to complete the album. With awkward breakdowns, it is a fitting way to end the album with just complete destruction that ends with a somber drum and guitar ending to ease the mood of the entire album.
Even so, after all of this praise, I could still see some distain for this album. People may dislike the vocals, completely reasonable. The song structures can be too chaotic and complex for liking, no problem. Nevertheless, I truly feel this album is unique. They wanted to make a chaotic album that sounds like them, and no other band. I can say after listening, it is hard to compare. While parts could easily be compared, as a whole, this album is of true colors to the Number Twelve Looks Like You. It will be interesting on how they go from here, to see how much further they can take their music. As for now, Mongrel has already taken their music to another level.