This is a review of "Stripes" recorded by Mojo Pin. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2002.
Making notes as I listen to Mojo Pin for the first time I can feel the internal on/off switch clicking at regular intervals. The swaggering confident blues shout at track one has me scribbling "oh yes!" A strong voice reminiscent of Pearl Jam and a confident guitar. But then I write "god awful grunge tripe" at track two and "getting back there but sluggish tempo kills it" for "Disappear" at track 3.
At track four ("Woman Yeah") the combination Jon Spencer/Make Up blues shout riff-thing comes back and cheers me up. The drummer is a bit housetrained and a clumsy chord progression intrudes an unnecessary chorus. But the slightly out of control fast and furious bits are fresh and exciting.
"Beautiful Truth" at track 5 starts off twee and spends a long time in careful mode. A passionate almost insane vocal saves it from being dull and the drummer has little bursts of loose shots that help. A very cool lap steel guitar is wasted with several minutes of safe twiddling around. But then it has a great mad warbling solo and I see my notes say "oh yes!" again. But we had to wait a long time for it and the safety net acoustic strumming and steadycam bass keep it well away from the dangerous edge.
"Movin' Rat" at six starts you off with some annoying stereo switching but gets into a good rocking intro with bounce and panache and onto a cop movie rhythm and more blues shouting. There's some good use of guitar texture. It's warming up.
The understated, pulsing, Jaggerish "Dober-man" is probably the best, but not quite the last, track. Irritatingly there are some ten minutes of other studio doodle bits glued on the end of its four minutes which show where the band should be heading, when they get the courage to be themselves and lose the impulse to play mock blues (never joke with that stuff: it only ends up with you looking foolish). This is where the CD should have started. The rest is dress rehearsal and dues paying with no real focus.
Mojo Pin will be very good. This CD will become a box full of memories that explains where they came from. But at the moment it doesn't convince me that they know what they want to do with their obvious talent. Yet.