Here's some Orwellian doublethink for you: Neil Cicierega's Mouth Moods is
- One of the best things I've ever heard.
- One of the worst things I've ever heard.
You know how in some works of fiction you have these characters who are always in the background and aren't usually noticed but every now and then they sweep into the frame to remind you how crucial they are to the whole thing? Neil Cicierega is that guy for the whole internet. You've probably seen something created by his twisted imagination.
That something might have been Potter Puppet Pals, it might have been "Ariel Needs Legs," or it might have been the nine albums he recorded under the name Lemon Demon. Cicierega's thing is taking pop culture, murdering it and then going out driving in the middle of the night in a suit made of its body parts. And he loves every minute of it.
Defiling 90s and early internet nostalgia is a particular obsession of his. He enjoys his memes, particularly the Smash Mouth song "All Star," which forms the backbone of the three albums he's released under his own name since 2014. Mouth Sounds was a compilation of mash-ups that used "All Star" like an axe, and featured such blasphemies as a splice of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with “Billie Jean” as well as using one of the most poignant quotes from Blade Runner to lend gravity to Tay Zonday. It was weird and wild but not very good as an album.
Months later Cicierega was back with Mouth Silence, an altogether more confident work that saw Hanson and Ylvis come together to help Jimi Hendrix come out as a furry. "Wndrwll" is also now the only way I can stand listening to Oasis' inexplicable classic. It was a pretty good album and would have been enough of an achievement for any internet music producer, not least someone who's basically doing it as a joke.
Then in January this year he dropped Mouth Moods, and that is a treasure.
This is a mash-up album that seems to have everything at just the right levels – or the wrong, depending on how you look at it. The emotional centrepiece is the vocals from "Y.M.C.A" layered over Han's Zimmer's "Time" from the Inception OST. This is a song with real, fearsome passion and desperation, at once moving and frightening. That it shares space with a version of "Eye of the Tiger" where every other noun is replaced with the word “Tiger” probably says something about Cicierega's intentions as an artist that is easily understandable but also difficult to articulate.
I mean, what do you want? "Wonderwall" meets "You Spin Me Round"? Korn singing along with Annie Lenox? An upbeat rendition of Drowning Pool's '"Bodies Hit the Floor"? Will Smith telling you that you don't want to see his hand where his hand be at?
Probably you don't want any of these things. No one else but Neil Cicierega ever wanted these things. But they exist on Mouth Moods, and they are waiting for you.