Mugwump - Unspell

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  • Geoffroy Dewandeler, the artist better known as Mugwump, has done a lot in his 25-year career. He's worked in Antwerp's best record stores, was the first resident DJ at Ibiza's KM5, and later became a key member of the team at Belgium's legendary Food club. As a producer, he has put out EBM, house and techno tracks on labels as diverse as R&S and Permanent Vacation. A wide-ranging musical curiosity seems hardwired into his DNA. It's no surprise, then, that the Belgian artist's first album, Unspell, dips into everything from Krautrock to lonesome blues. Keen students of this indie-dance sound will note that the well-connected Dewandeler has assembled a connoisseur's selection of guest vocalists for the album, including Circlesquare's Jeremy Shaw, Von Spar's Philip Janzen and Luke Jenner, formerly of The Rapture. However, like many dance music producers who have attempted to make more expansive pop and rock albums, Dewandeler hasn't quite got the song-writing chops or the emotional leverage to make Unspell soar. Grooves and deft production he can do, and parts of Unspell are well executed, such as the neat cover of "Breakdown," Mickey Mike's new beat classic, and the radiant cosmic pop of "School's Out." But other tracks, like the Matthew Dear-ish "Doobie Shine Trouble" or the juddering synth-pop opener, "After They Fall," lack the X-factor—the killer hook, the human drama—that would have made them great. A ballsy remix from someone like Daniel Avery might turn the euphoric "Halo" into a hit but, like the album as a whole, the track feels rather lightweight and underdeveloped as it is. Beneath its stylish veneer, Unspell lacks substance.
  • Tracklist
      01. After They Fall 02. Doobie Shine Trouble 03. Halo 04. Lurline 05. Memento Lies 06. Until You're Worth It 07. Breakdown 08. A Quarter Heart Left 09. School's Out