I found myself in conflict after delving into Marmozets for the first time, though that didn’t stop me from impulse-buying a ticket to see them the night after I discovered them. The tracks I’d heard on the radio, “Habits” and “Major System Error”, belied a sharper and altogether more interesting nature to the band’s songwriting. Behind the near-kitschy blending of pop rock with the power chords of heavier bands, Marmozets unveil themselves as a quintet with considerable teeth. The difficulty I’ve had with deciding whether or not they are a good band essentially comes down to this identity: if I find post-hardcore in the main to be somewhat difficult to stomach, then why not this?
Perhaps it’s a certain sentimentality for the numerous influences the band employs without ever feeling artificial. Whether they’re channelling The Cranberries or Bloc Party, there’s a reinvention of those textures that feels genuine. Piano and string sections reminiscent of Radiohead, vocal strains at either end of the spectrum inspiring comparisons to a young Matt Bellamy, a stop-start funk to many of the basslines that could have been taken from Favourite Worst Nightmare — it’s all here in some form, repackaged with heavy, crunching guitar work and incredibly catchy, rhythmic lyricism. This is no criticism of the way the music sounds; in tandem with so many familiar flavours, Marmozets successfully carve out their own tangible and charismatic personality. It is, however, disappointing to feel a necessity in referring to other bands whilst describing them.
The question these factors pose is whether this is a sound built to last. While the riffs and breakdowns are charging, raucous, and spine-tingling, the lyrics fall apart if you look too closely at them, and the range of influences can often be distracting. It’s hard to concentrate wholly on the band’s vision when you’re busy wondering which Garbage track they’re reminding you of. The album also suffers from poor structure and a lack of a coherent theme, coming off as a collection of great to decent tracks rather than a considered 45-minute exercise in the art form. All of that being said, I’ve enjoyed my time with this album an awful lot. My hope now is that Marmozets have the legs to maintain this enjoyment in the long run.7 10
Favourite tracks // Lost in Translation
This was my introduction to Marmozets. In fact, it may have been my introduction to an entire genre: post-hardcore. If Knowing What You Know Now is a fair picture of both I’ve been pleased to make their acquaintance. The record plays through an impressive spectrum of sounds and sonic energies, but it frustrates as much as it entertains. It’s a true hodgepodge of influences. Listening through I hear Muse, I hear Queens of the Stone Age, I hear Green Day… I hear all sorts of bands that are only tangentially connected outside of the album.
It feels clumsy to list other groups Marmozets kind of sound like on Knowing What You Know Now, but that’s how they come across; a smooth blend of disparate energies. Not in a crude or imitative way. It’s just what comes to mind. The band unquestionably has its own strengths. The vocal melodies and arrangements are often brilliant, with hooks on tracks like “Lost in Translation” and “Meant to Be” kicking about for a good while post-listen. There’s a confidence to the overall delivery that invites attention, and given how frantic much of the songwriting is the record goes down unexpectedly easily… anonymously even. I think the mixing locks in a radio polish at the expense of the chance to cut a little deeper. Given the line Marmozets treads here I understand the decision, but it still seems a shame at times.
This was bittersweet in the end. I found Knowing What You Know Now to be an aggressive, consumable, ultimately disposable album. It doesn’t land quite as well as it deserves to. A trimmed tracklist with a rawer sound might have sharpened things up, but I’m not wholly convinced. Part of me suspects this is just what Marmozets do. I’ve enjoyed my time with them here, but there wasn’t much left to discover after the first couple of listens.6 10
Favourite tracks // Insomnia
Lost in Translation
I have to admit, I’m choosy when it comes to this area of rock. Many of Marmozets’ contemporaries often come across to me as angsty, whiney, and compressed to the point of losing any grit that could’ve been. With that said though, Knowing What You Know Now has made for an enjoyable week of listening and I certainly haven’t struggled with returning for repeat listens. The first half of the album does particularly well at drawing the listener in, and the ten minutes made up by “Meant To Be”, “Major System Error”, and “Insomnia” might be the best on the album. These three tracks exemplify the variety of qualities that have warmed me to the album, with strong, crunchy bass lines that are very reminiscent of rock of the ’90s, strong, catchy vocal lines and moments of downbeat, swirling guitar wails to temper the pace.
Unfortunately, these characteristics don’t always shine throughout the tracklist, as the latter half doesn’t come across anywhere near as strongly as the former despite individual tracks often sounding good in their own right. “Like A Battery” for instance, sounds similar to the rest of the album but relatively soft and radio-friendly, which ultimately makes it less memorable and more reminiscent of guitar pop than rock. To add to that, while the vocal lines themselves are the best feature of many tracks, the lyrics won’t pull at your heartstrings or unearth hidden emotion, although I can personally give any album a pass on slightly weak lyrics if the instrumental holds up. Knowing What You Know Now makes for an uneven album then, with some great individual tracks that don’t gel well together in an album, especially when placed among other tracks with softened edges and pop appeal. At times it teeters on the line of music I just can’t get along with while at other times I’m having a ball as I listen. I’ll definitely be coming back for the tracks that shine, and I’ll be interested to see what the band do next, but I’m unsure whether I’ll remember the album as a whole.7 10
Favourite tracks // Major System Error
Meant to Be