Museum Mouth - Sexy But Not Happy (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Museum Mouth

Sexy But Not Happy (2012)


I suppose I owe Museum Mouth an apology for doubting them. The group's first full-length, Tears in My Beer, was one of my favorite albums of 2010. It was a lo-fi, lovelorn punk record that I could leave on repeat for hours, and I didn't think they could follow it up. So I took it kind of hard when frontwoman Savannah Levin quit. Coupled with drummer/keyboardist/vocalist Karl Kuehn pursuing new sounds with SWTHRT, I kind of assumed Museum Mouth was done.

So, uh, sorry.

In the bold tradition of Genesis, Museum Mouth's drummer has graduated to rocking the mic full time. The resulting record, Sexy But Not Happy, is a fitting follow-up to Tears. It's a little cleaner and more assured, but it still has the same atmospheric haze and punky energy as before. Sure, it's hard not to think of how Levin would have fronted the songs sometimes, but Kuehn works just as well. Oddly enough, the band sounds even more like Lemuria on this record. While not everyone sounds like Sheena Ozzella, there are plenty of dudes who want to be Alex Kerns.

Anyone worried that Museum Mouth would lose sight of the intense brevity on Tears should be assured by opening track "Goodbye, Evan." It's a rocker, and only 66 seconds long. "Sexy But Not Happy" launches the record into dance-punk territory, something "Blood Mountain" keeps going.

But the album does a good job of ebbing and flowing more than Tears ever did. "2005" is a quiet, bitter like break-up tune, even though it keeps coming back to the same image of driving with someone all the time in a car: "You've been a fan of my songs since 2005 / I never knew why." Bonus track "Kitchen Floor" is another downplayed winner.

For all its punk qualities, Sexy wouldn't be out of place on the Slumberland roster thanks to all the echoes and shadows that cover these recordings. Songs like "Swahili" offer chiming guitars and loverlorn yelps, and it works when played with passion. Museum Mouth has changed in a lot of ways since 2010, but they've managed to preserve the essence of what made them such a compelling band in the first place. Sexy But Not Happy is a great record regardless of who's singing on it, and a confident follow-up to Tears in My Beer.