Catalonian quartet MOURN stormed onto the scene in 2014 with their self-titled debut - a work of angular indie rock and pointed lyricism delivered with confidence well beyond their teenage years. Two years later, they returned with the equally superb Ha, Ha, He. and proved themselves worthy of the early praise, squashing any remaining questions of fleeting hype. But with seemingly endless opportunities in front of them, MOURN found themselves caught in a legal dispute with their former Spanish label, rendering them unable to tour or effectively support their sophomore effort.
Facing the sort of obstacles that might, understandably, derail a fledgling band’s career, MOURN instead forged ahead, and in typical fashion managed to harness their swirling anger, frustration, and passion from the past 2 years into new music. Now, only just recently freed from their legal binds, MOURN is back in full force to share their 3rd full-length album, Sorpresa Familia.
In a collective statement, the band said:
“Everything you live builds you as a person, and we think it builds your art as well. We use songs as a way to express ourselves, to organize our ideas, and understand our own thoughts in order to grow emotionally. This album sums up everything we’ve lived during the past two years. It wasn’t easy to open up, but we did it anyway, without fear. Every frustration, disappointment, delusion…we got everything out. We liberated ourselves, and now we’re ready for anything that comes up. The lyrics are all very literal; they are our raw experiences, without makeup. Our animalistic side, reduced to our most intense and visceral emotions. Of all our recent experiences, we keep what was learned, all the mistakes and successes. Now we know that life is SORPRESA (a surprise), but above all, it is FAMILIA (family).”
Ironically, the obstacles and injustice MOURN have faced in recent years has provided a fertile foundation for new songs that display a palpable maturity and evolution, while retaining every bit of the fiery angst and attitude that has shaped their sound from the start.
The album opens with "Barcelona City Tour", a call to action against the "darker side" of Barcelona's underground music scene. "This song is the result of a lot of things we’ve endured from people who prefer to remain quiet and live exploited, in exchange for being part of something they consider exclusive.” The guitars burst out with abrupt aggression to the driving chant of “They may shut up / But I’ll stand up / They may shut up / But I’ll stand out” which could easily act as a mission statement both for the album and this moment in their now limitless careers.
Confronting troubles with their now ex-label in Spain, album highlight “Fun at the Geysers” tells a story of “waste and hypocrisy” while in Reykjavik to play a show two and a half years ago. “It was one of our last shows before we had to stop playing due to legal circumstances. We were left in the city without money or food, while the person who should have been watching out for us took a taxi to see the geysers and enjoy a day of tourism.”
Chock full of tension and pent up frustration, Sorpresa Familia feels tonally right at home within MOURN’s catalog. But it also feels distinctly separate - more refined, more intentional. Railing against greedy businesses, exploitation, fake friends, dishonest figures of authority, and ever complicated global politics, it’s an album of decidedly higher stakes than their past outputs, delivered with the newfound poetic grace of a band rising up out of the ashes of those who stood in their way.