REVIEW: Mutemath – Odd Soul
Well, October is finally here. Unsurprisingly, it’s another month to not get things done while I watch movies, play games, listen to music, and sit around. But at least there’s tons of new music. I thought Mutemath‘s new CD was supposed to be out in late September but it was pushed ahead to this past week with a couple of other albums I was anticipating, so now I’m backed up. Great. Why waste any time?
I really dug Mutemath’s previous two albums; I learned about them through (guess what?) the downloadable content on Rock Band 2 and have enjoyed them ever since. Their self-titled debut a few years back was solid through and through while their follow-up, Armistice, was a bit more artsy and gutsy. Nonetheless, excellent stuff. I expected Mutemath to go the same direction this time around, but did I get what I wanted from them? To an extent, yes. To another, no.
My tastes in this band’s music vary a good deal. From their first CD, “Chaos”, “Noticed”, and “Stare at the Sun” are three completely different songs but each one is great in its own right; from their second, “Clipping”, “Goodbye”, and “Pins and Needles” did this for me. Again, they’re all very different. What I really enjoy about Mutemath is their ability to sound good no matter the tempo, tone, or style.
Odd Soul is just as spread out as the other two CDs. From their first two singles (“Odd Soul” and “Blood Pressure”) you can’t really gauge what you’re getting into. “Odd Soul” (the song) sounds like something you’d hear from The Crash Kings while “Blood Pressure” has some loud clashes and memorable guitar. It’s clear that while Armistice had a stronger focus on lyrics and technical capabilities, this is a chance for them to break out some hard-hitters, especially for concert settings. Armistice was interesting and off-center but with Odd Soul it seems they’ve eschewed their technical grandiose for sheer sound. It’s understandable, though…for a band pushing through festivals, at least.
And a lot of the songs really would be excellent live. “Prytania” (named after a New Orleans theater) is great, upbeat stuff. “Allies” is another number that really shows how much of grasp the band has on their sound. Even better, it’s segued into by a short instrumental piece called “Sunray”. What would a Mutemath CD be without an instrumental; thankfully they always get it right.
If you really liked their older stuff, “All or Nothing” is a wonderful fusion of Armistice, and their new sound; it seems constrained and scaled-back, but it’s obscurely infectious. Simply stellar. Later songs like “One More” and the CD-ender, “No Time at All” are also quite beautifully done. Although quiet, these tracks give strong vocals a chance to shine while downplaying the instruments a bit. Of course, when the drums and guitar pipe up about half a minute into “One More”, it really doesn’t matter what approach they take. You may find yourself enjoying it just as much.
While some of the last couple of songs on the album aren’t as strong as the earlier stuff (including the penultimate song, a seven-minute track called “Quarantine”) it doesn’t detract from how solid the disc really is. Mutemath is an excellent band which fails to disappoint. Despite how odd it may seem at first, Odd Soul is a wonderfully-made CD. Listen to it!