Mock & Toof, aka Duncan Stump and Nick Woolfson, had been around for a while before their debut LP, 2010’s Tuning Echoes. Their K-Choppers / Brownbred EP, thanks to some help from DFA’s international offshoot, Death From Abroad, garnered plenty of attention and since then they’ve put a variety of releases on several labels including Mule Music, Rvng Intl and Tiny Sticks. It’s the last of these labels that’s putting out their follow-up, Temporary Happiness.
The main change from their work to date is how much restrained and darker it sounds by way of comparison. Confusion Time is a cloudy opener with a sparse rhythm that sets the tone for what’s to come. Happy Crash spends a lot of time creating a mood and tries to do more inventive things with its percussion and beats whilst Everything Is Known is notable for its futuristic-sounding aesthetic. There is a clear emphasis on a mellow tone rather than aiming for a party vibe. The potential problem, however, is not that it isn’t accessible but that this is easier to admire than to love.
It’s to Stump’s and Woolfson’s credit that their music has a lot of impact. Seeing the title Sleeper on the tracklisting could be enough to scare people away from hearing it but the end result is something that’s understated and minimal with a surprising amount of punch to it. Don’t Work, Don’t Care is dingy and contemplative in places but is anchored by a beat that’s buoyant and some delightfully soulful singing courtesy of Ghostape from Switzerland (who contributes to all of the vocal parts on the album). What could have been a stomper is actually a sleek highlight.
As the album progresses towards its final third, things start to get a bit more uptempo and lively. Those who persevere through what’s gone before will find this trio of tracks to be highly rewarding. Following the loose and fun Get Out The Way is Walking The Streets, which is a slow-burner that slowly unravels over the course of seven minutes. Once its funky bassline kicks in those who yearned for something more immediate are finally allowed to let loose. If that still doesn’t win anyone over then Mock & Toof’s trump card in finale Snowball will certainly do the the trick. It’s an unabashed crowd-pleaser that is immensely satisfying and makes for a strong finish.
Temporary Happiness is not a collection that can easily digested on first listen and even then it’ll take the listener a long time to let it all sink in. Not everything on the LP is successful but as a whole it is at the very least intriguing and there are some tracks that are immensely fulfilling. It might come across as intimidating but, if given a chance, it will start to slowly work its magic.