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We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves

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iTunes Review

Some might say John Maus needs to censor himself, perhaps ease up on the reverb saturation and resist the thieving of Joy Division bass lines and ‘80s analog synth texture. But a growing number of fans praise Maus and his unrepetent moods of doom, his exaggerated baritone that borders on satire (Bela Lugosi’s dead!), his fondness for ridiculously churchy organs. What is his story, you might ask? He’s a sturdy Midwestern son, PhD student, and pals (and collaborator) with musical cousins Ariel Pink and Panda Bear. We Must Become … is Maus’s third and most cohesive album, though hooks still evade and compelling atmospherics are the order of the day. The wow factor on a few tunes might help reticent listeners come around to falling under Maus’ spell: the chilling waltz that is “Cop Killer,” the gothy “Quantum Leap,” and “Hey Moon,” a gorgeous, dreamy duet with the notable Molly Nilsson (the song’s author), all might catch skeptics by surprise. Actually, if the Gregorian chant-haunted “Keep Pushing On” and the synth pop euphoria of “Believer” don’t convince you, you may as well move along.

Customer Reviews

To put it simply

John Maus is a wizard.

Weird, wonderful

If you gave Joy Division some antidepressants, a synth machine, and went crazy with the reverb, they would sound sort of like this album. It's magical and beautiful and also kind of strange, all at the same time. Give it a spin!

Gold Rush

In a less humdrum, by the numbers world--airwaveswise--this would be a huge, triple platinum smash, and Stefani Germanotta (honestly, can you blame that girl for resorting to a stage name!) would give her last lobster shoe to bring over to Interscope. Forget about the buzz. Despite his Glo-Fi penchant for occasionally dirtying-up some of these diabolically infectious stunners with what sounds like old time tape-cassette player hiss, this isn’t really another ever so slightly loving-hands-of-home Lo-Fi special for Maus. “Bedroom act” it may be still, but it sure doesn’t sound that way anymore. Massive, deep space reverb and all, it sounds more like every ultra-trendy, everything-80’s-is-new-again trick in the book folded it all into an album’s worth of enthralling, super hooky pop tunes that against all odds, and in stark contrast his earlier efforts, leaves Cee-Lo and company in the console tweaking dust. In short, pretty much a rush from start to finish.


Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

When John Maus (not to be confused with the John Maus of Walker Brothers fame) wasn't playing keyboards for Animal Collective, Panda Bear, and Haunted Graffiti, he was writing and recording his own hermetic, experimental, and oftentimes misunderstood compositions. Drawing on artists like David Bowie, Scott Walker, and Joy Division, Maus' swollen, distorted, and unabashedly strange debut, 2006's Songs, was more or less reviled by any and all music critics within earshot. CMJ wrote, "It took this Ariel...
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Top Albums and Songs by John Maus

We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves, John Maus
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Customer Ratings