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Dancing Mice

13 Difficult Lessons (Record Union)

By • May 9th, 2012 • Category: long players

Offering up a staggering fifth collection of songs since 2006 are Dancing Mice. The experimental four piece deliver this latest album amidst a growing popularity with many believing 2012 to be a big, breakout year not only for them but the indie electronica genre as a whole.

Capitalising on the strengths and well received previous outings Solferino and Eroded, there is a softer, mellower-post punk feel to this latest album. 13 Difficult Lessons plods along with a sprightly tempo that drives the album forward and makes it effortless to listen to.

80s influences are clear. From Roxy Music to Talking Heads, Dancing Mice flirt with the decade where synthesizers walked the earth. Art house rock tinged with the merest sprinkling of surreal psychedila, 13 Difficult Lessons offers up some memorable and above all enjoyable music.

The album’s title is perhaps the most misleading aspect of this work. Standing at thirteen tracks long, the lovingly-crafted lyricism may speak of lessons learned but listening to them is anything but difficult. With a laid back, gentle infusion of riffs and hooks, peppered with keyboards and the soft vocals, Dancing Mice take listeners on a comforting journey through their wickedly vivid imaginations.

‘The Red Shadow’ is a techno-infused track that conjures up visions of Conan Doyle style escapades around the band’s native Edinburgh. The tongue in cheek attitude oozes from this and the album as a whole with an enjoyable aplomb. Dancing Mice know what they have and where their talents lie. They are masters of a conjured reality and happily invite you, the listener, along for their ride.

Twelfth track ‘Father and Sons’ offers the album its best song. A delightful ballad, Ian Deary’s vocals wail over the others with a saddened edge that teases the listener with unknown tragedy, the lyrics made all the more poignant. A track that would not feel out of place in a Shakespeare sonnet, the scope of Dancing Mice’s knowledge and musical influence as aptly displayed.

It is perhaps a little surprising then, to those unfamiliar with their work, that Dancing Mice hail from Scotland. Shock, horror and as scathingly betraying to Braveheart as that sounds, there is a method in the madness. As a country, the proudly boasted “Best small country in the World,” Scotland has an image crisis when it comes to its art.

Altogether maudlin, caustic altogether dreich, the art of this country often reflects this. From the gothic darkness of architecture to the savagely beautiful paintings of Peter Howson. Scottish art, much like the people, has always retained that underlying menace and cynicism. With acid tongued pessimism and a wit that would cut diamond, Scotland has an identity the world over as being something altogether a bit moody.

It is with great joy then that a band like Dancing Mice and their contemporaries, are blowing these aspersions away in a flood of good cheer and upbeat optimism. This is no cutsey poo, Walter Scott short bread tin effort. Dancing Mice deliver 13 Difficult Lessons as a legitimate piece of work and in doing so, fly a much more positive, less than dreary flag for the musicians of Scotland.
13 Difficult Lessons (Album) - Dancing Mice

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