Personnel: Jazz Rodríguez Bueno, Carla Pérez Vas (vocals, guitar); Antonio Postius (drums).
Audio Mixer: Lluís Cots.
Recording information: Studio Nautilus, Arenys de Mar.
When Mourn recorded Ha, Ha, He., they were just about to enter their twenties, and their second album reflects all the intensity and changes of those years. The band trades the PJ Harvey-meets-Nirvana outbursts of their self-titled debut for slightly less expected influences: Throwing Muses and the mid-'90s heyday of Chicago post-rock, both of which suit Mourn's free-flowing emotions perfectly. The quick-shifting tempos and rhythms of "Flee" reveal a band that's more serious about its music without overworking it, a feeling emphasized by "Storyteller"'s jazzy chords and impressive counterpoint. Meanwhile, "The Unexpected"'s stalking beats and tense buildups reflect a spiritual kinship with Kristin Hersh's mercurial post-punk outfit. The band goes even farther afield with "Gertrudis, Get Through This!," which combines a Sonic Youth-like guitar rush with sentiments that are far more earnest than anything by that group; later, the breathless charge of "Irrational Friend" flirts with early emo. These broader musical horizons add sophistication to Mourn's turbulent feelings. While nothing here is as heart-stoppingly direct as their debut's standout "Your Brain Is Made of Candy," "Evil Dead"'s spectral vocals and thrashy instrumentation lend a new dimension to their ongoing horror obsession (and the lyrics suggest they've graduated from eating brains to immortal souls). Here and on the perversely named ballads "I Am a Chicken" and "Fry Me," the band balances its newfound maturity with a hint of its old mischief. If this album is slightly less thrilling than Mourn, it's also more consistent, reflecting the mix of discovery and growth most people experience as they leave their teens. On Ha, Ha, He., Mourn do a little of the former, and a lot of the latter. ~ Heather Phares