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Mozart's Mini-Mart
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  • In a career full of surprises, left turns, and decisions that anyone looking to have a successful career in music might regard as self-destructive at best, Go-Kart Mozart is Lawrence's crowning achievement in that regard, and the third Go-Kart Mozart album is the weirdest, wildest, and most confusing album he's done under that name yet. After the (very) relative straightforwardness of 2012's On the Hot Dog Streets, where Lawrence and his mates (including right-hand man Terry Miles, aka K-Tel) appeared to be tethered to reality in a way many people could understand, Mozart's Mini-Mart blows the top off of musical sanity like the cap off a shaken-up bottle of soda pop. Over the course of 35 minutes, Lawrence and crew dish out a dizzying array of corny pop styles, cheesy sounds, and vintage keys while covering a similarly wide range of topics including televised executions, zipless sex, pop celebrity, and that old chestnut, depression. It whips from bubbling synth pop that sounds like the theme to a '70s children's program ("Anagram of We Sold Apes") to a classic three-chord glam rock stomper ("When You're Depressed") to a wobbly rockabilly-meets-music-hall ditty about being broke ("Relative Poverty"), and that's just the first three songs. The rest of the album is just as mercurial and strange, with the band never doing anything obvious or strait-laced. They cover easy listening icon Roger Whitaker's "A New World" in lo-fi synthwave fashion, but serve up the chorus with un-ironic pathos. They give "Big Ship," an obscure Cliff Richard song, a synthy update and make it sound like a lost classic. They essay dumb rock clichs on "I'm Dope," thudding junk-shop glam on "Knickers on the Line by 3 Chord Fraud," sea shanty chants on "Farewell to Tarzan Harvey," and on "Crokadile Rokstarz" they whip up the kind of futuristic punk noise that Sigue Sigue Sputnik always wished they could. Along with "When You're Depressed," the album's highlight is "Chromium-Plated We're So Elated," a song so odd and amazing that describing it clearly is about as easy as getting off the dole. Throughout the record, Miles proves himself a genius at coaxing the exact sound the songs need out of his banks of keyboards, fretless bass player Rutsy Stone gives the songs a rubbery bottom, and Ian Button of fellow oddballs Papernut Cambridge is on board to provide guitar and production. It's a crack band whose members give their all to give Lawrence's songs the oddball charm required to measure up to the genius of his writing and singing. He may have traveled a long way from the glory days of Felt, or the almost-success of Denim, but even when his life has turned dicey, his gift for cracking amazing jokes in one line, then dropping devastating emotional bombs in the next, has never deserted him. It's out in full force on Mozart's Mini-Mart, and the record is nothing short of a rollicking joyride of eccentric brilliance. ~ Tim Sendra
Professional Reviews
Magnet - "[F]ull of short, witty synth-pop songs such as 'When You're Depressed.' Think Magnetic Fields at their most ephemeral."
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