The Mousetrap Factory – The Beauty of Routine album review

21 04 2023

In 1981 the Liverpool based band A Better Mousetrap was formed. The band performed in venues around the North West of England before disbanding in 1985 and they were never heard of again, until now. In 2020, three original members got together to work on the music they created in the 1980s. Calling themselves The Mousetrap Factory, over the next two years they recorded updated versions of old songs, along with some new ones. These form the album The Beauty of Routine which will be released in 2023 and is available on-line via Burning Shed.

The Mousetrap Factory - The Beauty of Routine album cover.

The Beauty of Routine features nine songs, including a cover of Humdrum by Peter Gabriel. Tim Bowness has written the sleeve notes.

The album starts with Trivia, and an old telephone dial tone, with a disembodied “hello”, maybe referencing the future calling the past? This is not the album the band would have made in the early 80s, and Trivia feels like a 21st Century song and production, whilst clearly drawing from the bands musical past. References to modern day living provide lyrical updates to the song that was originally conceived in 1981. I love the proggy keyboards from Brian Hulse, and as always with Hulse recordings, the drum programming is a highlight.

Distant Man was written in 1980, a slow building piece, with a wonderful post-punk bassline from David K Jones, and an emotive performance from vocalist Peter Goddard.

“The letters fade, I loose my hands
And they must never know what I feel for you”

Space is the first “new” on the album. Set to a laid-back, loping beat that is underpinned by deep bass, minimal synths and percussive guitar lines, the reflective, at time spoken, lyrics suit the music perfectly. This song makes me want to jump into my (imaginary) time-machine and visit the long-lost London Planetarium to listen to this song, lying back with headphones on whilst experiencing the laser lightshow.

“Infinite, vast, formless, nothingness”

A Contradiction, originally written in 1981, changes direction mid-way through the song, with a very clever dialling down of the speed and pace, with the end section reminding me a little of The Garden era John Foxx. Not in the sound of the vocals or the instrumentation, but the highly emotional, gentle and almost choral arrangement.

A Contradiction is an epic track, with the band pouring more ideas into this single track than some bands put into the mix for a whole EP. Talk about value for money!

Humdrum is a cover of the Peter Gabriel song from his 1977 debut. The Mousetrap Factory add more jittery electronics to their updating of this classic late 70s original. The reimagining is respectful, whilst taking the song into new directions so many years later. Peter Goddard adds his own vocal stylings, instead of providing a more obvious, deeper delivery of the lyrics.

Waiting/Monologue was originally written in 1982, and has some early Simple Mind’s referencing drum and bass interplay, giving the song a potent urgency. Stripped back lyrics and heavily processed vocals make this one of the most interesting arrangements on the album.

I Stand Aside is the second and final new song on the album. Its also my favourite song on The Beauty of Routine. It has a freshness and lightness of touch, to make it stand aside (sorry, not sorry) from the other songs on the album. A stunning vocal performance and arrangement from Peter Goddard, with sympathetic and unobtrusive backing from band colleagues Hulse & Jones, delivers one of the albums key tracks.

“I stand aside
I only came here to enjoy the ride
But if you’re planning something more beside
I stand aside”

The final two songs were both written in 1980. Mrs. Green reminds me a little of The Teardrop Explodes, which is always a good thing. The nursery rhyme-like lyrics, and the unexpected break-down at the half-way mark, gives this track its unique charm.

The Beauty of Routine ends with the slow-paced and atmospheric The Nineteenth Day, featuring deep-cut synths and a melodic bass-line that works so well alongside a very theatrical, expressive vocal from Peter Goddard.

“I hold the future…”

The Beauty of Routine brings together the bands past and transports their music into the here and now, in a way that hints at a possible future.

Pre-order The Beauty of Routine CD from Burning Shed

Download the bands cover version of The Blue Niles Over The Hillside

Distant Man
I Stand Aside
Mrs. Green
The Nineteenth Day

Visit The Mousetrap Factory website.



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