The Mouse Outfit – Step Steadier (Album Review)
The Mouse Outfit are probably the closest thing we have to a UK hip hop super group. This Manchester-based, multi-MC fronted, live monster hit album two with Step Steadier which released today and it’s a beast. Their first long-player garnered awards and plays across the world, whilst their live show with a 9-piece band featuring brass and live drums is a sight to behold.
Debut release Escape Music had several highlights but Step Steadier holds true to it’s title with a blistering array of absolute bomb tracks. The magic of this may come from the well-balanced ,three-way home team of Pitch, Chini and Defty providing the basis for the band’s direction and sound whilst a dazzling array of some of the finest British MC talent tag-team on the mike.
The album explodes into life with Sparkz and Truthos Mufasa riding the languid, horn-driven beat of No Stoppin’ This with a relentless flow though the verses. Credits Roll has a classic hip hop feel – bass rolling, beats kicking – and, as promised by the title, a cinematic feel with Verb T on the mike this time around. Sparkz grabs the vocal back for Bye Bye, a neck-mashing nodder for the heads. Title track of the album comes next with Fox shadow-boxing with a minimalist funk instrumental.
Out comes the sitar for Power with Sparkz and Thuthos Mufasa sparring over the mike again. Psyched, Dam Funk-ish Greatest Story allows Verb T to spiral over the woozy backing track. Sip A Little Bit Of Rum has a cracker of a one-note honked chorus and surely will the soundtrack to some summer time drunkenness, look out for raised glasses…
Dr Syntax is one of Mouse Outfit’s main live MCs and he finally brings his deep-toned flow to Who’s Up Next, seemingly MO’s calling card as the vocal baton gets passed by the four main voices who each try to out-spit each other whilst confirming their unity on the chorus. Time is, er, well-timed as after a relentless start the album needs a little dropout moment and the jazz piano and whispery background vocal provides the necessary.
And it’s a good job we had that moment as next up is 007, a monster of a track with dub reggae bassline that builds and builds. Syntax returns for The Answer which, like many of these tunes, you need to reload several times to really appreciate the intricacies of the rhymes. More wavy, dreamy vibes come next, not unexpectedly with a title like Wrap Another Zoot. No Wonder spits out an off-kilter jazz beat that jerks and freaks.
Verb T makes his final appearance on For The Soul with a bassline so heavy there’s only just room for anything else. Menacing horns on Up To Scratch back up Dr Syntax as he showcases a high-speed vocal with buzzing guitar in there somewhere too. The album finally closes with the almost lugubrious Saga.
Phew! I didn’t intend to go through every track but it this album is so strong, so consistent that it would seem an insult to miss any of them out. If you have any interest in hip hop you’ll want this album in your collection but if you still haven’t given UK hip hop a chance then this is the place to start. Future classic.
Step Steadier is out now on cd/download via The Mouse Outfit’s Bandcamp and other download site…but buy it direct and no scumbags gain! You can check the live behemoth in action all over the UK in the next couple of months as well, more details via their website.