In the brief spatter of their existence you could always count on Les Mouches for song titles, sardonic moues from an anxious face. “Carload of Whatever,” “Divorce the Ones You Love,” ha ha. “Daddy Needs a Daddy,” inspired by one band member’s middle-aged father coming out, narrated some such event like a candelabra-toting Vincent Price: “Would it amuse my son to know / That on the night of his conception / My jism thought its target was Cary Grant?” You could count on them for that too—the morbidly sexy flourish.
Les Mouches were Owen Pallett, Rob Gordon and Matt Smith. They have the same band together again now, but it was not the same band. “I was playing acoustic guitar back then,” Owen says, “and I was in terrifying, spiky real-love. I hooked up with best-drummer-in-the-city Robbie Gordon and drone-noise-guitar-genius Matt Smith. I wanted the band to sound exactly like US Maple but also exactly like the Carpenters.” Back then Rob liked going off on skittering free-jazz runs. Owen sang in a wan murmur. “[Undecipherable screaming],” the lyric sheets read. Les Mouches described relationships synonymous with a nervous breakdown: “There’s a hundred million boys I could slime / If you’d let me leave.”
Their parents worried about them, not always laughing at lines like: “I’ll photograph myself giving head / And burn myself a new nose,” or laughing at the whole idea of the band. Owen again: “One kid I call a friend got so angry about hearing our music on Guelph radio that he wrote many posts describing us as, among other things, ‘the worst music he’d ever heard.’” But Les Mouches did have a loyal constituency at the 30 or so shows they played, pinballing between Ontario and Quebec from 2003 to 2004. The last one was a Pop Montreal showcase that ended with Owen frantically spinning atop the bar of Casa del Popolo.
Les Mouches broke up, according to Owen, because he had no money and “my life was in shambles.” Before that they still managed to release the Blood Orgy EP and an album called You’re Worth More to Me Than 1000 Christians. It became a favourite of Orchid Tapes’s Warren Hildebrand, who brings Les Mouches to you pressed on vinyl for the first time. There’s this Filipino snack known as balut, a yolk-floating duck embryo seasoned and eaten inside its shell. Trying one might resemble the experience of hearing You’re Worth More to Me Than 1000 Christians again: Intense, a little harrowing, and finally delicious.
- Chris Randle