Audio Mixer: Roel Blommers.
Recording information: Popei.
Photographers: Remy Meijer; Michel Schoots; Kelsey Reckling; Ammo Bankoff; Ada Rajkovic; Guus Ritzen; Jeroen Dankers; Kaya Yusi; Mukta Mohan.
Dutch indie quartet Mozes and the Firstborn up their game on Great Pile of Nothing, the follow-up to their eponymous 2014 Burger Records debut. On that record, the group's scuzzy lo-fi garage rock was a perfect fit for Burger's quick and dirty aesthetic, but in the ensuing two years, the Firstborn have ripened into a hooky power pop combo with more emphasis on production value and melodies galore, making them one of the label's better-sounding bands. Produced by drummer Raven Aartsen, Great Pile of Nothing feels more distinctly rooted in early-'90s alt-rock with shades of Guided by Voices, Teenage Fanclub, and even a bit of Redd Kross thrown in. Singer Melle Dielesen's voice is perfectly suited to this kind of material, with a ragged Kurt Cobain edge that cuts through the mixes and a natural pop sensibility that carries the tunes. Right from the top, the disc is loaded with standouts, from the strident "Land of a 1000 Dreams" and the fantastic title cut to "Crybaby," whose soaring chorus is an instant earworm if there ever were one. A more laid-back slacker vibe hangs over the album's second half, with slower tempos and more introspective fare like the harmonically pleasing "Till the Feeling's Gone" and the downcast, cello-assisted anthem "It's Over," another highlight. While their first album was enjoyable enough, there was little there to indicate that the Firstborn were capable of producing such a remarkable power pop gem, but with Great Pile of Nothing, that's just what they've done. ~ Timothy Monger