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Album Review: MOURN ‘Sorpresa Familia’

Sorpresa Familia opens up with their first lead-in single “Barcelona City Tour,” which is packed and punching with energy. It’s also pretty all-encompassing of the message the band’s trying to get across with this album. This is their third LP, which, as a band still in their early 20’s, is kind of crazy to think about especially since the sound is so mature and cognizant of what came before it.

Getting this album out has been a real tug of war between MOURN and the industry—caught up in legalities with their former Spanish label, they’ve written an album that’s very much about the oppression by “The Man,” which in relation to their lives is the corporate side of the music industry. They’ve made no attempt to bury that fact under the rug–they’re mad as hell. You can hear it in their voices on Sorpresa Familia.

A lot of the imagery they use to relay what they’ve seen is incredibly visceral, and manifests the pain and suffering within the body. With lyrics like “The candle in his hand / Is only hurting himself,” and “Please, feel your skin disappear / Peel your nails one by one,” they make their frustration palpable and physically uncomfortable. They turn the struggle of the band into one of the body, one that grinds them down to the bone. The resentment of being used as puppets – literally being told where to stand, where they can and cannot go–burns hot through this 12 track EP.

The fact that these kids have written an entire album in which every single song touches on this topic is a big kick in the balls to everyone who’s wronged them and anyone else who’s ever been in their position. They’ve taken a terrible, painful, incredibly irritating and demoralizing experience and made an album to be proud of. Their defiant tone and willingness to take a pretty nail-on-the-head, narrative approach to their lyrics, like on track 8, “Thank You For Coming Over,” while being playful and metaphorical on the next track, pays respect to punks from decades past. They say exactly what they want to in a simple way while also being clever and sometimes sarcastic: on track 8, the chorus goes, “Thank you for coming over / Every time I feel grateful / I feel blessed.” It’s all very Poly Styrene-esque.

Each tune has its own melodic, rhythmic, and fundamental idea that carries it and justifies the relentless message. Sisters Jazz and Leia Rodríguez, Carla Perez, and Antonio Postius work so well together, each contributing exciting and crucial components to each song.

Sorpresa Familia is out June 15th on Captured Tracks.

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