Mouse Fire - Big Emotion (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Mouse Fire

Big Emotion (2010)


Big Emotion is a new direction for Mouse Fire, the Florida band responsible for the sprightly but modestly played, Pinback-ish indie pop of their solid 2007 debut, Wooden Teeth. And it's hard to say if the change suits the band well.

One might cite these new ambitions to a significant lineup change: lead vocalist Joey Bruce left, and lead guitarist Shane Schuch stepped in to fill his shoes. Except, Bruce must have been wearing Sambas while Schuch sports platforms. See, a weirder dance-rock vibe pervades the material, and while the band doesn't necessarily sound like they're trying to be ironic through the faint threads of white disco invading songs like the string-accompanied "Don't Mess with a Texan" and "The Comedy Of...", it too often sounds oddly dainty and just plain awkward.

"Half a World Away" harkens back to Wooden Teeth's more humble processions a bit, but still has a cheesy power-pop beat on the chorus and extraneous string/xylophone additives. There's all this extra stuff on every song that more often than not makes the track in question sound needlessly busy; it sort of feels like a more homespun take on the production of that first Panic! at the Disco album (sorry, guys), to give an idea.

The second half is a little more successful. "A Silly Boy from Tampa Bay" is a brass and shaker-assisted mid-piece that works better than most of the record. It might be the more restrained vocals in the chorus that at least gives the song some contrast in that area, and that's something largely lacking elsewhere. "Tic Toc" hints at this a bit, while "But, It's Not What You Think" is a slower, queasier and weirder acoustic-picked number that departs from the central vibe of the album too, for the slightly better.

Big Emotion feels like it was titled with an air of contradiction considering the band's earlier, comparatively stripped-down approach. I don't mind this style when it's done right (Minus the Bear's OMNI and Bear Hands' Burning Bush Supper Club serve as fluid examples), but it's hard to get emotionally or joyfully invested in this record overall.

Don't Mess with a Texan
True I May Have Lost It

Big Emotion