8:15am

Sat April 23, 2011
All Songs Considered Blog

The Thrilling, Manic And Utterly Addictive John Maus

Watching John Maus talk about his music in an interview (see the one from The Drone at the end of this post), it's not surprising to learn that the synth-pop deconstructionist is also a political philosophy and theory instructor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He's also working towards a Ph.D. in Political Science. The guy's got an incredible amount of energy and a million different ideas colliding in his wildly creative brain at any time.

This summer John Maus will release his third full-length album, and first since 2007, with one of the best titles I've ever heard: We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves. Hey, John, I'm with you, man.

"Believer" is the closing track to the new album, due out June 28, and the first official single. The video, produced using rare, vintage equipment, looks like it was recorded on an old VHS tape deck circa 1982, with flickering digital static and rainbow-colored overlays.

"The video was the result of an ongoing collaboration between Jennifer Stratford, Nicolas Amato, and I," Maus tells NPR. "Like the music, (it) wagers (that) all these old machines now consigned to obsolescence afford expressive possibilities the mere 'cutting edge' never could, you know? It is also about honoring that great figure of daring, Mr. Jack Chan, and for reasons more complicated and numerous than I could possibly go into here."

"Believer" itself is a driving, bass-heavy blast of brilliant synth-pop with Maus' vocals floating in a sea of reverb.

"I suppose what I was after, what I'm always after in some way, is a singular affirmation that we are something else than this, you know?" Maus says. "Something better than what we all most often seem to suppose we are. I mean, what else should music be than this: an anticipation of what would finally be itself?"

You'll likely be hearing a lot more from John Maus this year. If "Believer," and "Quantum Leap," another track from his upcoming album that he gave away on his SoundCloud page last month are any indication, We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves could be a breakout record.

Check out this interview he did with the French site The Drone. It'll also give you a good idea of what his incredible live performances are like. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.