Sunday, September 12, 2021

Mouse Rat’s ‘The Awesome Album’ hides the secrets of a lifetime

Parks & Recreation fans across the world behold: the time has come for Mouse Rat’s long-awaited debut studio record: ‘The Awesome Album.’ The four-piece band went by many names such as Scarecrow Boat, Wet Dog Nightmare, and Nothing Rhymes with Orange throughout their time but their line-up has barely changed. 

Composed by the same ol’ Andrew Burlinson on guitar and backing vocals, Mark Rivers on drums, Michael Chang on bass and backing vocals, and lead vocalist and guitarist Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt), ‘The Awesome Album’ has finally landed. Produced by Dualtone Music, the LP includes beloved singles ‘5,000 Candles In The Wind’, ‘Catch Your Dream’ featuring Duke Silver (the mysterious saxophonist and alter ego of Nick Offerman’s character Ron Swanson), and ‘Two Birds Holding Hands.

As you probably know, Mouse Rat originally come from Parks & Recreation, the American political mockumentary and sitcom series created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur. It tells the story of the eponymous department that oversees public parks and recreational works, and its diligent employee Leslie Knope, played by Amy Poehler. In the TV show, Mouse Rat performs at several gigs and local events in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, including the memorial service for the town’s mascot Li’l Sebastian.

You take a running leap / And you learn to fly” are just some of the touching lyrics to come from ‘5,000 Candles In The Wind’, the elegy to Pawnee’s famous miniature horse, Li’l Sebastian. As the sweet country guitar chords were playing, a memory of my old dog came to my mind. The truth is that Li’l Sebastian represents every little furry friend from our childhood. And now Mouse Rat has gifted us with the most tender song to celebrate the great times we had with them. ‘Catch Your Dream’ – that’s what Uncle Tom from Texas would say hanging around his porch on a Sunday morning – might sound like a classic rock and roll song but its bridge hides a romantic yet bold saxophone solo. Just like the highs and lows in life, the melody, which melds elements of classic and soft rock, creates a turbulent yet reassuring instrumental. At four minutes in length, this track just frankly isn’t long enough!

The record also includes ‘The Pit’, a song originally composed for an early Parks & Rec episode in which Andy (Chris Pratt) slips into the construction pit behind Ann Perkins’ (Rashida Jones) house and breaks his legs. Andy’s gravelly vocals are underscored by yet more classic rock instrumentation, making for a real toe-tapper of a tune.

Up next is ‘Two Birds Holding Hands’, a somewhat romantic track wherein Andy seeks to impress a crush, suggesting ideas for potential dates which include going “bowling”, “hitch[ing] a ride to outer space” or getting dinner at “Arby’s.” You can watch the lyric video for this country ballad on YouTube and let yourself be impressed by Grant Claire’s illustrations.  

‘The Awesome Album’ is simultaneously packed with references that will delight the biggest Parks & Recreation fans, whilst also being an enjoyable listen for those who are unfamiliar with this sitcom from the creators of the American remake of The Office. 

A highly anticipated passion project from Pratt and co., ‘The Awesome Album’ is a fulfilling record, offering both laugh-out-loud moments and touching lyricism.


Martina Bovetta


Image: Mouse Rat ‘The Awesome Album’ Official Artwork

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