Artist’s Website: http://mutemath.com
Epic American alt-rock, now super-sized with modern blues-rock flavours.
Mutemath is a band based in New Orleans, LA that has released three albums to date. The first self-titled album, released in 2006, featured the singles “Chaos” and “Typical” and gained the band momentum in alternative rock circles for its mix of electronic beats, calamitous drums, guitars, keytars (seriously) and U2-style widescreen epic musicality. Mutemath followed up with Armistice in 2009, an uneven effort that attempted to branch out into more experimental tangents but often forgot to bring the tunes.
This year’s album is named Odd Soul, and while the music is still more diverse in scope than the debut, the songs still offer plenty of hooks that become apparent after repeated listens. While Mutemath reportedly has roots in the contemporary Christian music scene, there’s precious little evidence of that on Odd Soul. The music sounds up-to-date, informed by equal parts funk & blues rock and modern hit-makers like Coldplay or The Killers, and there are (thankfully) no cloying songs about anyone’s best friend Jesus. The influence of religion here is comparable to what you might expect from a band like U2, where Christianity is just one subject matter among many. And if Armistice was an over-correction into experimental ‘try anything and see if something sticks’ territory, Odd Soul strips the plan back just enough to hit the sweet spot between curiousity and accessibility.
The lead-off title track is a heavy floor-stomping blues number, closer in tone to the Black Keys than anything previously offered by the band. “Pyrtania” is a compressed shuffle of sounds, a whirling dervish of extra-dry drums, keyboards, and guitars that wouldn’t sound out of place on a 1980’s prog rock album. Muthmath returns to blues riff rock territory with the modern-rock single “Blood Pressure”, featuring a fluid bass line and drums underneath seamless layers of vocals, synths, and guitars.
Shuffling beats, over-driven vocals, and a tighter, funkier musicality are evident throughout the best moments on Odd Soul. “Tell Your Heart Heads Up” and “Quarantine” would sound right at home on alt-rock radio. But elsewhere on the record, Mutemath explore other sonic textures. “All or Nothing” and “In No Time” are reminiscent of Radiohead’s quieter, prettier moments. “Allies” and “Walking Paranoia” are electronic and funky -imagine Red Hot Chili Peppers riffing on some of Stevie Wonder’s hit songs. Vocalist Paul Meany pushes his voice far more than on previous releases, and the inventive, propulsive rhythms of drummer Darren King thrive on the razor-thin edge between swinging and thumping.
Mutemath’s latest record may not have quite the same crossover hit potential as the best moments on their debut, but fans of modern rock willing to invest a few listens will find much to appreciate about this Odd Soul.