Review Summary: More ingenuous then it is genius, it's the most fun record I've heard all year.
Being a sort of obsessive music enthusiast, I listen to a large quantity of music. With so much music to listen to, it can take an insalubrious amount of time to really become familiar with an album. Fortunately that was not the case with Mates of State’s Rearrange-us
. Flying out to Sasquatch Music Festival at the end of May, I played the album once in anticipation of seeing the unfamiliar band there. With just that one listen and the ensuing concert I have become passionately attached to Re-arrange Us
. Perhaps it’s the joyful simplicity of their music, or the overwhelming catchiness of it. Regardless, It’s easily the most charming record of the year so far.
“Get Better” is the opener. An emotionally charged uptempo track, it introduces the group’s peppy drumming and harmonized vocals. “Now” begins with a drum intro and a synthesized keyboard line. The chorus is invigorating with its energy. “My Only Offer” is based on a simple piano riff; with that one riff Mates of State weave a captivating, laid back track. Horns are featured in the post-chorus section, creating a soothing texture. “The Re-arranger” pushes the group’s pop limits a bit by creating a really epic moment. Paralleling the intro, the bridge section is very poignant. “Blue and Gold Print” features an electronic drum beat in its verse, also being one of the prettiest tracks on Re-arrange Us
. ”You Are Free” recalls some of the grandness of “The Re-arranger”. Its closing section is really powerful. A nice attribute of all of the songs is that they avoid feeling formulaic. There is a real range of diversity on the album, due to the shifting song-structures, instruments, and moods. The husband-wife duo of Kori Gardner on keys and Jason Hammel sound extremely tight, on record and live. When I saw them at Sasquatch they also utilized two stringed musicians which added a lot and gelled perfectly with their live show.
Track summaries really fail to describe the strength of the group. Their instrumentation is choice. Keyboards range from synthesizers to traditional piano tones; guitar tones appear from time to time and electronic elements are also incorporated. The tracks intertwine seamlessly. There isn’t a single track that fails to satisfy, each dynamic and catchy, displaying impeccable songwriting. Kori and Jason's voices perfectly compliment one another whether harmonizing or leading a melody. They balance gently on the line between fun and passionate, managing to be affecting without losing their playful air. Needless to say, this album isn't for everyone. If you aren’t one who gets down with indie-pop you likely won’t be impressed. If you are a fan then do yourself a favor and buy this. Now now now now now now now…