Sound — 9
I usually think first impressions of an album can be a little biased, because albums do tend to grow on you. That being said, I haven't given every album I've listened to the chance it deserved. That being said, with TNTLLU's previous effort Nuclear.Sad.Nuclear being an acquired taste, I was looking forward to Mongrel in the sense that it would offer something unique but lasting. The first taste was given via the song "Grandfather" on their MySpace page, and I thought that their so-dubbed 'quadraphonic sound' had improved thanks to tight production. So, when I ordered the album off of the Internet, I popped it in almost immediately and sat my ass down for a hell of a ride. The new album Mongrel shines not just in production (which has undoubtedly improved the quality of their music), but technically you get the feel that each member has significantly improved in their musicianship. The tonal qualities of Alex's and Mac's twin-guitar assault (a cliche term these days) really is rare, where it is hard to distinguish a lead and rhythm player, as they play off of each other. The new bassist fills the ex-bassist's shoes quite nicely and complements drummer Karel's sixteenth-note frenzy nicely. And to top it off, Justin Pedrick and Jesse Korman are lyrical demons. Executing line after line of both poetic and even fun (in the loose sense of the word) lyrics. All in all, Mongrel is a step-up from their previous releases in terms of variety of clean/distortion ratio, but also music that simply 'works'.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics, although some would immediately dismiss them as morbid or grotesque, all have significance. I tell that both Pedrick and Korman took a no-holds-barred approach to writing the lyrics. At first listen, the instruments of the album grab you. But when you later take out the CD booklet and examine the lyrics, you find yourself in a questionable state, asking yourself: "Did they really say that?" or even "Can that even work?" The answer, is yes. From the personal allmost grudge-like approach to "Imagine Nation Express" to the depth of "The Weekly Wars" and even the emotional "Jay Walking Backwards," each song holds significance and plays off of the music to create a truly dynamic lyrical experience.
Overall Impression — 10
This album is a treasure. It showcases the bands musical tastes, but highlights the unique tonality behind their music which makes them unclassifiable. From the dissonant intro from "Imagine Nation Express," the frenetic speed of "Sleeping With the Fishes, See?" and screw it. All 10 tracks are epic, and will change not what you thought about grindcore, but what you think about music in general. Go buy this album, it is well worth whatever the pricetag says.