Review Summary: Synth driven, progressive, post...pretty much everything.Malamute
- a large breed of domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) originally bred for use as an Alaskan sled dog and is often mistaken for a Siberian Husky.
After listening to Breathe Deeply, Horse, the debut album from the Mississippi based Malamute, it's immediately obvious that the band either had no idea that the aforementioned animal existed and simply thought the word would be a cool band name, or simply named themselves Malamute to be ironic. To fully grasp the irony, one needs to have a small bit of background information on the physical attributes of the Alaskan Malamute. For example, Alaskan Malamutes are quite terrible at maintaining speed and momentum over relatively long distances, and if there is one thing Malamute excels at, it's maintaining momentum, as there is nary a hiccup or misstep to be found throughout the duration of the album.
To fully describe the sound of a band like Malamute can be tricky to say the least. At times, the music they present can be soft, melodious, and airy, other times dark and brooding, and occasionally dissonant, thick, and heavy. Heavier synth driven passages give way to head bobbing groove sections, which swell into thick and oppressive sections filled with overly fuzzed out guitar, then break into mathy passages, followed by slowed down stoner metal (ish) riffery, and that's just the first three minutes of I Married Common Street Trash. The greatest part of all this is that throughout all the time changes, mood shifts, and genre mixing, nothing every feels awkward, the momentum is never lost, and nearly every transition is smooth and completely natural. To pull off feats such as this, it goes without saying that every band member needs to be fairly competent with their respective instruments, and Malamute is no exception to the rule. Guitarists Aaron and Chips (who sadly is no longer a part of Malamute) not only display ample technical ability (for examples of this see the slightly spazzy solo sections in the previously mentioned I Married Common Street Trash, as well as the interestingly out of key "harmonized" leads in Castrate Karate), but also provide great examples of how to use effects to enhance particular riffs and leads (i.e. heavy fuzz being used to make the slower sections more lumbering and "huge", reverb and chorus effects to add to the spacey elements presented in some of the post-punk passages, and so on). I think it goes without saying at this point the rhythm section is also very talented. Spence's ever present and grinding bass is constantly shifting from walking basslines and short stacato bursts, to rumbling chords and even a few pseudo-lead parts, and drummer Allen displays obvious prog influences through oddly timed and interesting beats coupled with sporadic fills.
The album is also just as strong vocally and lyrically as it is instrumentally. Spence's vocal delivery, much like everything else, is constantly changing. Sometimes it's rather gruff and loud, others its very subdued and harmonious, and when called for the delivery switches to harsh yelling, and occasionally raspy screaming (usually present in the background). The lyrics are fairly
simplistic in nature, but not overly simplistic. Basically, poetic enough to be interesting and simple enough to be relate able. I guess the best way to illustrate that is by example, so here is a little snippet from Wyoming.
"Wyoming, you've drained the blood from our veins out,
10 below and whited out, you'll kiss us, now just another 20 more miles.
Never will we speak of this night again, what could possibly go wrong?
Last drive, to Denver,
Never To Arive."
While none of the elements or ideas presented on Breathe Deeply, Horse are earth shatteringly revolutionary, everything presented manages to feel fresh and new, a feat which is not easily attainable. Hopefully, with time, the band will be able to further develop their already extremely solid sound and garner attention from a much wider audience. For an album so excellent, it's a shame that many will probably either overlook it, or simply not be exposed to it.