Momentum. It is normally an essential element for new bands, forming the main reason (alongside cash) why labels push and prod artists into a vicious circle of album/tour/album/tour. So when Marmozets were forced to take a two-year break after their thrilling (and award-winning) 2014 debut The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets due to an injury to singer Becca Macintyre, there were genuine worries about what the future contained. As well as this, the sad passing of Becca’s (and of course guitarist Sam and drummer Josh’s) grandmother added tragedy on top of an already testing time. So there was much delight and relief when last year’s thrilling comeback single ‘Play’ was released, and that will be further heightened by an exceptional second album.
Whereas Weird And Wonderful felt like a runaway train with its math-core sound and juggernaut riffs existing barely on the edge of chaos, Knowing What You Know Now immediately strikes you as subtly different. It is the same train going at the same breakneck speed, but it is as if this time Marmozets have a surer hand on the controls. It takes all that made the debut special, and develops every aspect exponentially. The aforementioned ‘Play’ and ‘Habits’ you know already, the former still sounding exactly what a stage-dive would sound like if you could distill the essence of it into a three-and-a-half minute song. ‘Meant To Be’ matches the deep rumble of Josh’s drums and Will’s bass with a sensational riff that Matt Bellamy would kill for. It is the sound of a band reborn, and a track that circle pits around the country will be eagerly awaiting.
Production comes from the legendary Gil Norton (Pixies, Foo Fighters) and there are a lot of new wrinkles in the band’s sound this time round. Trumpets ring out at the finale of the relationship breakdown tale of ‘Major System Error’ before the woozy, psychedelic ‘Insomnia’ – a fitting title where high-pitched strings heighten the anxiety before a brooding, heavy riff crashes us back to earth. Everything, even including Becca’s vocals, is ever so slightly off kilter, and it is demonstrably different to anything Marmozets have done before.
The album deals with events from the last few years for the two sets of siblings, with ‘Lost In Translation’ dealing with tour life in interchangeable foreign hotels while the gorgeous ‘Me & You’ is a beautifully written piece on mourning and loss (“I made it there just in time to say my last goodbye”). Not just dealing with the personal, they also delve into socio-political issues with ‘Like A Battery’ and its talk of: “Tower blocks filled with people who ran out of luck”. In these post-Grenfell days, we need more bands to keep the pressure up on matters like this. These songs serve to show a growing maturity not just in lyrical themes, but in Becca’s vocal performance. Alongside her, the rest of the band excel in knowing when to go big and when to turn the speed and volume dials down.
By the time the album wraps up with the exuberant ‘Run With The Rhythm’, it is telling that 44 minutes have slipped by in the blink of an eye and an eagerness remains to literally hit ‘Play’ straight away. Rather than rushing straight back into it, there is no doubt at all that Marmozets used that unexpected downtime to create something very special indeed (labels take note). It is a record that takes everything that you love about a band, and makes them all ten times better. Difficult second album syndrome? Knowing what we know now about this band, there should have been no fear of that at all.