It’s been a cold, bleak season in the land of punk rock. Even post-punk revival bands started getting short of breath about a decade ago. But sometimes, a weed grows in winter. Or, as the case might be, a legitimately talented teen punk band grows up in Catalonia, Spain. This week, Mourn’s self-titled debut album is dropping in the U.S., and next month the foursome—made up of three 18-year olds and a 15-year old—will begin their first U.S. tour. It all started when frontwoman Jazz Rodríguez Bueno and guitar/vocalist Carla Pérez Vas stumbled upon PJ Harvey in Bueno’s father’s vinyl collection, and it wasn’t long before they were drunk on the PJ punch.
Mourn’s ascendancy has been steep and swift, with indie powerhouse label Captured Tracks asking to distribute their album the same month (just last September) it was released by their Barcelona label, Sones Records. Since then, the band has elbowed their way into the pretty exclusive (garage) party of today’s punk acts worth watching.
Mourn isn’t as poetic, existential or musically wide-ranging as PJ Harvey, but Bueno channels her impressively comparable voice into another punk tradition: a more nihilistic, stripped-down and unstudied variety, with lyrics recalling Bikini Kill’s blunt reportage of rage (albeit, in Mourn’s case, more along the lines of typical teenage discontent than anything that could be perceived as political). Mourn’s songwriting falls into a tradition that often insists the truest value of a lyric is its face value—daring you not to read for deeper meaning. Their song “Your Brain is Made of Candy,” is, as Bueno puts it, “only a song about a guy who has a brain made of candy.”
It’s unclear how many of their clunkier lyric choices are owed to their semi-fluent English, but whatever they’re doing—it’s working for them. When you’re listening it’s easy to forget that you’re hearing some of the first songs these musicians have ever written, but this is important to remember. While Bueno’s voice is huge, effectively helming the already powerful, pile-driving sound of the band, Mourn isn’t exactly doing anything groundbreaking—yet. They don’t really stand for anything; they don’t really stand against anything; they’re just a couple of very talented kids, and this is all just the beginning for them. They’ve never toured outside of their town; they’ve never been to the U.S. They’re still just living at home, going to school, playing outside and worrying about things that kids worry about. To this point, when asked what she’s writing about now, Bueno said her current inspiration is an encounter she had with an ill-fated earthworm.
“I’m writing a song about a worm I killed accidentally a couple months ago. I felt very bad because Carla and I were digging, looking for a box we had buried last year in the summer—before everything happened. We were just friends then and we liked to be together and do things; most of the time we were drawing, and eating a lot, because Carla’s mom cooks very well. Anyway, we put things in the box we’d love to remember in the future—drawings and letters to our future selves—but we couldn’t remember where the box was. We started to dig all around the woods, and there was a moment with a shovel when I stabbed a worm by accident—and well, he died. It was a very fat worm, so there was a lot of worm blood, and I felt really bad. So I decided to write a song for this worm. I don’t know, maybe I’ll call it ‘Worm Heaven.’”