Photo via Youtube.com

4.5/5 stars

On May 27, 2022, the rock band Just Mustard released their second album “Heat Under.” The hauntingly beautiful dream pop album is simple, yet it has a powerful impact on the listener. We are no longer paying attention to just the vocals, but to the all-accompanying rhythms that make the band unique. It develops a sound so stringent and mechanized that you forget that it is a five piece band. With a darker tone than their first album “Wednesday,” Just Mustard finds the right amount of strength to gain the attention of weary listeners. The 45-minute and 15-second album shows listeners that music is about the minute details: the parts that go unnoticed but can make a listener obsessed with the sound it makes.

Originating from Dundalk, Ireland, Just Mustard combines the Celtic sounds of the region with singer Katie Bell’s hypnotizing soprano that creates an alternative rock album similar to that of the Cocteau Twins and the eerie goth rock of The Cure. Not to mention the essence of Slowdive, Bell’s voice is fainter but her wispyness fits perfectly with the accompanying psychedelic and synthetic guitars. They scream and wail sounds of machines and horror. It sends the listener into an altered state, as if we are grieving for something we did not lose. From the first listen, Rob Clarke’s bassline resembles an army marching and carries the music through the album. It is a sharp and powerful beat that can be felt in the chest. David Noonan’s guitar and accompanying vocals match perfectly with Bell’s, expressing the frustration that is locked within all of us. The song “Deaf,” which is off their first album, is a prime example of Noonan’s shocking voice. 

“Heat Under” begins strong with the song “23,” which makes for an impactful opener that introduces the listener to the band. It is soothing and sweet with a hint of sadness behind it. “I Am You” describes how you sometimes mimic someone that you idolize in hope of gaining their attention. The sadness peaks at “Blue Chalk” but the album itself climaxes at the seemingly musically-complex “Mirror,” which expresses lyrics of not recognizing oneself, and connects back to the message of  “I Am You.” The album ultimately ends with the song “River,” which reflects on past mistakes.

This album is interesting because it can be played as ambient music, but beware because it will make itself known and eventually gain the listener’s attention. Its sorrowful message and dreary sound may not be for everyone, but the album has potential to help skyrocket Just Mustard into popularity. Its range of sadness to anger to hope is a piece of work that many artists such as The Cure and Bauhaus have been expressing for years. Now it is time for the younger generation to express their emotions amongst the greats. For the best listening experience of “Heat Under,” I recommend using headphones and letting the album lead you to a place of longing and curiosity.