Hilarious Musical Madness; A Review of Neil Cicierega’s Mouth Dreams

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Mouth Dreams is another excellent mashup album from Cicierega, that is both hugely energetic and exciting, it's only hampered by less musical tracks.

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Neil Cicierega is a hugely prolific character on the internet for various reasons. Some people, like me, may have unintentionally encountered his creations many years ago in the form of ‘Harry Potter Puppet Pals’, or they may have encountered some of his music under the name Lemon Demon, or even his fairly popular videos on his YouTube. Perhaps my favourite of Neil Cicierega’s large body of work is his “Mouth-” series of albums, beginning in 2014 with Mouth Sounds, then Mouth Silence later that year, then 2017’s Mouth Moods, and now Mouth Dreams.

These albums originally contained a lot of mashups of Smash Mouth‘s now-infamous song ‘All-Star’, before evolving into a much wider range of songs. In his latest album comes Johnny Cash, Justin Bieber and Hoobastank, all on one song. There’s a certain sense of ‘meme trashiness’ in the choice of many songs, purposefully one presumes, but it only enhances how fantastic each of these songs is when they’re so perfectly mixed. How ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ got mixed with ‘Baby’ by Justin Bieber and came out this well is a testament to Cicierega’s talent. Not only are many listenable, but they’re also downright catchy and hilarious. Many tracks have their lyrics subtly edited, Johnny Cash now sings about being stuck in baby prison. David Byrne of Talking Heads now comically states “Say something once, why say it again?” twice. 

Even stranger is how many tracks follow on perfectly, and some even tell their own stories. One track seemingly depicting a Smash Mouth nightmare ends with “wakeup” from ‘Chop Suey!’ by System of a Down. Cicierega is known for hiding things in each of his mashup albums and so far this seems to be the same, I’ve heard voice lines from the game Team Fortress 2, and seen messages hidden within songs. The amount of effort put into what is a free ‘meme’ album is staggering, but it’s become the norm with each excellent album. There are even more subtle references to his earlier work and internet culture as a whole.

Given the nature of parodies and mashups, a lot of fun is missed out if you don’t know the original songs, not being an avid Green Day fan served me poorly. If you’re a big fan of late-90s early-2000s pop you’ll likely be fine. One or two tracks are also more just generic jokes than full-on musical mashups, they’re funny but after a listen or two I doubt I’ll listen to them as much as the rest. There’s also the problem of culture, references to Pee-wee Herman and the restaurant ‘Chili’s’ are entirely lost on me, as I’m not American. It’s still very enjoyable but recognising the songs mashed up makes them extra fun, this is partly why I’ve avoided ‘spoiling’ the contents of too many songs.

As with all of his mashup albums, Mouth Dreams is available for free on Neil Cicierega’s website. It’s hard to deny, despite its off-kilter jokey tone, that a huge amount of effort was put into this album. This, perhaps misplaced effort, has resulted in an excellent mashup album that is purposefully a tonally hilarious mess. I’m convinced Neil Cicierega is the only man who could turn ‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash into a funny song.

Mouth Dreams is available now for free on Neil Cicierega’s website, below is a teaser for the album featuring the song ‘My Mouth’:

 

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