Irish indie rockers Just Mustard have dropped their latest single ‘I Am You’.
Before today, I had never heard of Just Mustard. Part of the inside job of being a professional music writer is that you’re supposed to act like you have an encyclopedic knowledge of every single new band and artist that happens to drop a single. Even, and especially, when you don’t. This was my first go-around with Just Mustard, despite the fact that they’re an on-the-rise indie act with a growing fanbase. I will wield my ignorance like a weapon because I get the privilege of having a blank slate. No expectations.
Since I wasn’t expecting anything, I’m sure anything would have been a surprise. But ‘I Am You’ did in fact surprise me with how comfortable Just Mustard are with all their disparate elements. The song’s bass line from Rob Clarke is nearly static, unchanging in its simplicity. Next comes vocalist Katie Ball’s vocals, which sound like a sinister child singing a nursery rhyme in a horror movie.
Guitarists David Noonan and Mete Kalyoncuoglu go full Sonic Youth, using their mountains of distortion and echo like a bunch of chainsaws hooked up to drum machines. The drums themselves oscillate between crashing cymbals and uneasy drive, with drummer Shane Maguire continuously subdividing his hi-hat hits until he sounds as though he’s playing a broken film projector.
It’s all very heady, slightly frightening, and weirdly captivating. An exercise in restraint, nobody in the band does anything flashy to bring themselves about the cacophonous noise. As a matter of fact, nobody really does much of anything, laying out the same repeated parts with ever-increasing intensity. By the time it all reaches a boiling point, everything drops away except for Maguire’s drums and Ball’s voice, which eerily hang on the final notes before stopping seemingly at random.
I didn’t necessarily like ‘I Am You’, but I did find myself listening to it a couple of times over just to see if I was either oversimplifying or underselling the effect that the song has on the senses. It would make a great addition to any psychological thriller soundtrack, and its unsettling aspects are unlikely to convert casual listeners. But for those looking for some disturbing noise and strange provocation, I can’t recommend Just Mustard enough. If nothing else, they’re wholly unique, which puts them a step above 90 per cent of bands working today.
Check out the ‘I Am You’ visualiser down below.