The release of Mouth Washington’s new album was never going to be a joyous occasion. This band doesn’t do joy. Mouth Washington makes noisy, viscerally angry, uncompromising post-punk rock — no pop choruses or mainstream appeal whatsoever — which is exactly what’s made them one of the best bands to emerge in Maine over the past decade.
This past spring, Mouth Washington guitarist and vocalist Will Held died unexpectedly. Held joined founding lead singer/guitarist Max Hansen, drummer Zach Hansen, and longtime bassist Ian Gierhan for 2017’s ass-whoopin’ of an LP, Fourth Floor. Remiss is, tragically, his swan song, but it’s also one hell of a legacy, their most compelling record to date.
The chugging riff on opener “Postpartum” reminds you that though they don’t show it off, this band is tight, perfectly able to toss a prog riff or tricky time change into the sludgy metal-guitar maelstroms. The next track, “Constance,” is about as close as Mouth Washington gets to a power ballad, which is not very close, but undeniably powerful.
“They make you up just to be / a something no one could achieve,” Max carps on “Eye Lands.” The gloomy rage on Remiss seems rooted in a bitter sense of betrayal caused by basically the same societal malaise that birthed punk decades ago — young adults left stranded by phony commercial culture and a dead-end economy protesting the fact there’s no future.
Released during a global pandemic and climate crisis that prove beyond doubt that no one in authority gives a shit about anything but money and power, Remiss is a glorious gob of spit in the eye of everyone responsible.