By Molly Phelan
Review of Fiddle Lake By Mustard Service, Released October 27th, 2021
As I cued up the four track EP on my walk home down breezy University Avenue, I found myself delightfully impressed with the charming five piece Indie Rock group out of South Florida.
Being big fans of Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Mustard Service has always aimed to create layered tunes that elicit a sense of sunbaked euphoria. Gaining an initial following after the release of their 2017 beach rock album, “Zest Pop”, Mustard Service consists of Augusto Di Catarina on bass, Gabriel Marinuchi on lead guitar, Marco Ochoa on rhythm guitar/vocals, Adam Perez on drums and Leo Cattani on keyboard.
The mere 11 minute long soundscape starts off strong with the EP’s title track, “Fiddle Lake.” Jangly guitar arpeggios combined with Marco Ochoa’s rich alto tone elicits a sense of bittersweet contemplation. The tune ultimately addresses the tension between individual opinions and “hammy-down politics.” Therefore, “Fiddle Lake” represents the satisfaction that comes from literally drowning the neverending public discourse with music.
We then venture into track two, “Drugs & Alcohol.” This is one of those tunes that is seemingly soft and pleasant, until you actually take a second to reflect on what is being said. Ochoa liments:
Gimme money Give me everything
Sell your TV, sell mom’s wedding ring
Go ask Nuchi for a buck or ten
So you can go and get your fix again
Lo-Fi Indie Rock, and the genres surrounding, often face retaliation from certain music communities for lacking depth. However, I’d argue that tunes like “Drugs & Alcohol” perfectly represent the dark innocence that backs most DIY bands. Especially with music centered around abused substances, there is a lightness about this tune that almost represents the manipulative nature of addiction, masked by the smoothness of a melody.
Next up is “9 To 5”, an ode to the generational dismantlement of the exhaustive work culture in America. The strategically whiny and controlled vibrato of Ochoa’s vocals sounds like he is at his breaking point, as the drums syncopate to a full stop with the words “It’s getting harder just to stay alive” echoing into the great void. The use of recorded clockwork sounds, along with the halftime feel of the chorus, emphasizes the dysphoria that comes with working your life away.
The last track “is it true?” acts as a sentimental lullaby to finish off the EP on a contemplative note. The distorted guitar walkdown whisks you into a state of induced desolation, as the thought of a past love clings to your mind. The Beach House-esque synthesizer drones to a dynamical climax, with the words “You will learn to love again” finishes off the track on a nostalgic note. As the EP came to a close, I thought to myself, “that was the shortest 11 minutes of my life.”
Fiddle Lake captures the paradoxical nature of innocent maturity in a way that is truly touching to encounter. It almost feels like a scope into the minds of the youth as we navigate acclimation back into society after a year of isolation during the pandemic. A lot of us, including members of Mustard Service, did a lot of growing up and maturing during this time of elongated nothingness. Ultimately, it feels like we entered the pandemic as teenagers and left it as adults. Fiddle Lake highlights this message, using themes of politics, addiction, mental health, and heartbreak as a representation of our similarities growing up in the 21st century. I am very excited to see what Mustard Service does next.