MuteMath | Odd Soul (Warner Bros.)

 

cd mutemath_odd-soulA full 13 songs long (nothing new for the band; Armistice, by comparison, was 15), Odd Soul is a rather stark departure that works beautifully.

 

Forget what you think you know about MuteMath; their latest release, Odd Soul, finds the band veering heavily from the indie rock roots of its first three releases. Here, MuteMath embraces soul and odd time signatures. While it may take a spin or two to get used to, ultimately Odd Soul is crazy good and fully satisfying.

Sure, there’s Paul Meany’s near-falsetto vocals leading the way, but there’s also more in the way of noise and funk. The title track kicks off the album with a zigzagging mix of guitar and drumbeats; Meany’s signature piano—or keytar, as is befitting—is notably absent.

Classic rock mixed with funk defines “Blood Pressure,” a song that hints of family discord: “Why can’t you be more like your older brother?/ Why can’t you do a little more for Jesus?” Some part of your body will be moving and shaking when this track is on. The guitar ’n’ groove continues with “Tell Your Heart Heads Up.” Meany delivers the stanzas in speech, not song, and through a vocoder no less. You’ll want to throw “Allies” into this mixture, too; though it’s heavier on the rock than the soul, it nonetheless gets your foot shaking. A wall of guitar supports “Quarantine,” matching “Odd Soul” for its rock assault.

The instrumental “Sun Ray” is more experimental; think Air for a modern comparison. With its late ’60s/early ’70s vibe, the nearly wordless “Cavalries” calls to mind legends such as Traffic and Sly & the Family Stone. MuteMath stays in this time frame with the ultra-funky “Walking Paranoia,” “One More,” and “Equals.”

“Prytania” is the closest Odd Soul comes to the band’s shockingly good prior release, Armistice. Still, the pace is picked up, the guitar prominent, especially on an extended mid-song jam. A couple of mellower numbers, “All or Nothing” and disc closer “In No Time,” wouldn’t have been out of place on the 2009 release, either; the former even reintroduces keyboards/electronica behind Meany’s falsetto delivery.

A full 13 songs long (nothing new for the band; Armistice, by comparison, was 15), Odd Soul is a rather stark departure that works beautifully. It doesn’t feel like MuteMath is selling out, nor are they turning their back on their prior catalog. Rather, they’re stretching out, honoring their influences, and treating their fans to something both refreshingly modern and respectably old. A | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: Ra Ra Riot, Rick James, Stevie Wonder

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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