Museum Mouth – “Incubus Tattoo” (Stereogum Premiere)

Museum Mouth – “Incubus Tattoo” (Stereogum Premiere)

Museum Mouth’s last record, Alex I Am Nothing, was a concept album about an unrequited crush on a boy, and it was wildly hormonal and often irrational in the way that all crushes are. Popcorn Fish Guinea Pig, the band’s fourth record and follow-up, is a noticeably darker and more mature affair, written after vocalist and primary songwriter Karl Kuehn moved back home at the age of 24 after dropping out of college for the second time. But it also carries with it a fresh perspective that can only come with age, a lens through which to view your hometown that’s embittered but also enlivened.

Their last record was by no means unsuccessful, but it’s the kind of unquantifiable and unexplainable success that may not mean much to anyone in the North Carolina town where Kuehn re-relocated. It involved touring the country and experiencing the whole great big world, and then coming back to the same place that you grew up in and feeling suffocated and wondering why no one else was stifled as well. “Incubus Tattoo,” the record’s first single, confronts that feeling of displacement head-on. Here’s how Kuehn lays it out:

“Incubus Tattoo” is more or less a song about that certain someone you really bonded with during your formative middle school/high school days, who you lost touch with for one reason or another. That someone could be an actual person or it could just be part of yourself, and you probably should let bygones be bygones or bury the hatchet so to speak but like…but sometimes that’s hard, ya know?

Instead of cleaning up their sound like most bands tend to do a few records into their career, Musuem Mouth have opted for muddier and more distorted. The anthemic, face-melting opening riff is the only thing that soars among the layers of sludge — Kuehn raspy voice is still mixed down, all of the instruments bleed into each other in deliberate fashion. The lyrics take aim at that “certain someone” by lamenting their lack of progress, and asks a series of hard-hitting, loathing questions: “Have you done half the cool things we promised at fifteen we’d do?/ Or did you gain too much traction? Did you grow up and then grow through? My existence and our Incubus tattoos?” The song concludes: “I think we’re better off acquaintances than counterparts.”

And of the Incubus angle? Kuehn says:

I think I was just faced with a lot of funny, and mostly forgotten teen angst, in moving back home and it was wild how much of the dumb shitty feelings came RUSHING BACK to me revisiting that band’s discography in that setting. And I guess I just had a lot of weird animosity towards a lot of things in that setting being a closeted idiot boy obsessed with art and THE BAND INCUBUS. I would also stress that I STILL FRICKEN LOVE INCUBUS. A LOT. I MEAN I GOT THAT TATTOO 3 MONTHS AGO.

Listen below.

Tour Dates (w/ Say Anything, mewithoutYou, Teen Suicide):
04/20 Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey
04/22 Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee
04/23 San Diego, CA @ House Of Blues
04/24 Anaheim, CA @ House Of Blues
04/26 Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex
04/27 San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s
04/29 Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
04/30 Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
05/02 Salt Lake City, UT @ Club Sound
05/03 Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall
05/05 St. Louis, MO @ The Ready Room
05/06 Chicago, IL @ Concord Music Hall
05/07 Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
05/08 Pontiac, MI @ Crofoot Ballroom
05/10 Cleveland, OH @ House Of Blues
05/11 Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE
05/12 Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre Of Living Arts
05/13 New York, NY @ Webster Hall
05/14 Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
05/15 Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
05/17 Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
05/19 Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
05/20 Wilmington, NC @ Ziggy’s By The Sea
05/21 Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
05/22 Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works
05/24 Orlando, FL @ Beacham Theater
05/25 Tampa, FL @ The Ritz Ybor
05/27 Houston, TX @ House Of Blues *
05/28 Austin, TX @ Emo’s

* w/ Say Anything, Modern Baseball, Joyce Manor, mewithoutYou, Teen Suicide, Thin Lips

Popcorn Fish Guinea Pig is out 4/29 via Rory Records. You can pre-order it here.

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