The Mae Shi – HLLLYH (Moshi Moshi)

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MP3: The Mae Shi – Run To Your Grave

During my first year at college I stopped believing in reality. I was no longer convinced that the world I inhabited would continue spinning after I died. I lost faith that there was an absolute reality around me. Ever since, every action that I took had the bitter aftertaste of meaninglessness, with few exceptions. One such exception was the live show that the Mae Shi put on at the Velvet Lounge in DC this summer. From the minute they waded through the crowd shouting, “I want almost everything, and I get almost anything I want,” to the end of their seemingly timeless set, I believed in reality. It didn’t matter that the guitar was too loud, that you could hardly hear their highly caffeinated shouts, because by the end of the show nobody in the crowd wanted the Mae Shi to leave the stage. Really. We wouldn’t let them leave.

Their Moshi Moshi debut HLLLYH displays every bit of the energy as their spastic live act, and while you couldn’t hear a word during the show, the album reveals their lyrical wit. The entire album seems to be apocalypse based, and not just that, but a god-based apocalypse. The foreshadowing lyricism and relentless energy of opener “The Lamb and The Lion” make a perfect introduction to the record. At about 1:41 the Mae Shi go hyperactive on us, losing all instrumentation in a surprisingly high vocal complex, it sounds almost exactly like a children’s choir rehearsing for the first time, and under any other circumstances it would be unacceptable. In this case however, the effect is astounding. At just the perfect moment the instrumentals pick up and you’d think someone had to have nearly overdosed on whatever they put in energy drinks to write something like this.

After the attack that is “The Lamb and The Lion,” you need a break that the Mae Shi do not intend to give. “Pwned” is our first insight to the true motivations of this record. Following a somehow enjoyable shout, we’re given a very clear indication as to what the album is about. Vocalist Jonathan Gray half-speaks, “Go down there and start sending roaches and floods and mass destruction.” Straight from the mouth of God. From then on, it’s all death, souls, and devastation.

The Mae Shi’s apocalypse conjures some interesting social commentary. From the futility of human action expressed in album spectacle “Run To Your Grave,” to the optimism expressed in the two-minute epic “Young Marks,” the ideology contained in the lyricism of this album is undeniably phenomenal. The consumer that voices the aptly named “I Get Almost Everything” is the poster child for angsty college students looking for flaws in modern society. I don’t mean to be short on details, but there are simply too many lyrical gems contained in HLLLYH.

This is not to say the record is free of imperfections. The first half of title track “Hllyh” reminds us far too unpleasantly of Sum 41. Even though the Mae Shi keep up their standard of spastic energy throughout the song’s entirety, the resemblance is certainly apparent. I’ll give the Mae Shi this much though, they have got some serious balls for putting a track like “Kingdom Come,” a techno-mix of nearly every sound on the album, smack dab in the middle of their record. Mind you, the track is hardly entertaining in it’s eleven-minute disgrace, but the Mae Shi wanted it, so why not make it the album’s centerpiece?

The album as a whole is unsurprisingly pessimistic, but this is not to say that the Mae Shi are going to leave you looking at your shoes for the next few days. Closer, “Divine Harvest,” sets a perfectly melancholy mood for the end of the album. By this time, you’ve been through the ending of the world with the Mae Shi, and “Divine Harvest” gives you exactly what you need. An acoustic guitar and some cheerful whistling while the whole Mae Shi gang tells us, “Don’t be worried, everything will turn out fine. Don’t be troubled, it’ll be over when you die.” Sure, the world’s just about done, and so is your life, but hey, what are you gonna do?

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2 Responses to “The Mae Shi – HLLLYH (Moshi Moshi)”

  1. pasta says:

    As soon as the hand claps came in I was sold. Nice review, I’ll have to check the album out.

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