Artist: Neil Cicierega
Album: Mouth Sounds
Release Date: April 29th, 2014
Music Putty Rating: AfFIRMed // Soft-Serve // Flaccid
tl;dr: Daft Punk and Smash Mouth are together at last.
By Ben Simon
When I wrote my review of Neil Cicierega’s “Nature Tapes EP,” I had no idea that within the next 24 hours, Neil would somehow be able to top its pop cultural surrealism. Speak of the Devil. Or, if I may “horn in” with a beast more appropriate for the occasion, speak of Shrek. You see, while Super Mash Bros. bills itself as “Girl Talk’s hot cousin,” Mouth Sounds is its basement-confined stepbrother who subsists on an irregular diet of 20-year old Lunchables, reruns of Kenan and Kel, and the Shrek soundtrack, specifically Smash Mouth’s repurposed summer sports anthem “All Star.”
If the mixtape’s title was no indication, over the course of 17 tracks, Smash Mouth’s biggest hits “All Star” and “Walkin’ on the Sun” glow over six of them. As evidenced by Neil’s unhealthy preoccupation with Smash Mouth and its contemporaries, 90s (and to a lesser extent 80s) nostalgia is the album’s unifying theme, and is taken to its most equally incredible and horrific extreme on track 3, “D’oh.” In less than two minutes, Neil builds a nostalgic Frankenstein’s monster (or ogre?) out of everything from Austin Powers to Sir Mix-A-Lot, from “Once in a Lifetime” to the titular Homer Simpson catchphrase and the unmistakable barks of Porkchop from the Nickelodeon cartoon Doug. (On a side note, Porkchop’s voice actor Fred Newman also wrote a book called MouthSounds, which Neil acknowledged on his Tumblr).
Not all of Mouth Sounds’ mashups work for me (it’s hard to imagine that Neil is even the hundredth individual to pair “Billie Jean” with “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and the less said about “Imma Let It Be,” the better), but each of the mixtape’s true shooting stars breaks the mold every time. On the penultimate track, Neil proves that the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” and Loverboy’s “Working for the Weekend” sync amazingly regardless of which track has the a capella or instrumental portion.
Elsewhere, rumors of Bob Saget being the inspiration for “You Oughta Know” come to life when Alanis’ jaded accusations penetrate a carnival loop of the Full House theme, and late 90s standbys like Santana and Rob Thomas’ “Smooth” and Lou Bega’s “Mambo No. 5” jump out at you when you least expect them, but so does everything else here. Ogres may be like onions, but you’d be hard-pressed to find an onion with this many layers of unpredictable childhood memories.