Review Summary: Not music to get angry to. Rather, music to get angry about.
In spite of being the same basic band, there is actually a distinct difference between Many Machines on Nine and MM9. Blending a love of heavy rock and industrial music, Many Machines on Nine began as an ambitious young group with a slew of songs that, whilst not entirely inventive, had plenty of energy and memorable choruses to keep you at least slightly interested. Their change from their full name to MM9 would sadly be much more of a reflection on their new direction than perhaps they might have hoped. MM9 is the shorthand, text message version of the band's name for people that couldn't be bothered writing or saying the entire thing. In turn, the band's debut album, The Air Between
, is the dumbed-down, popified version of what the band used to sound like; like taking footage of the band on your mobile instead of listening to a high-quality recording. It's as if they've sabotaged thier established sound intentionally in order to appeal to a demographic that has a slower thought process. Whatever the case, we're on to an unfortunate mess here.
So where exactly did it turn sour? The choruses are still very much an unstoppable force, more often than not being the defining moment of the songs in question. Credit is also due to the inventive, storm-the-gates style of drumming that Ben Ellingsworth brings to the songs, in which he tries to keep things as lively as possible. Sure, it's easy to bounce along to the bulk of these tracks. Don't pay too much attention while you're moshing, however, or you'll start to notice that it's just a watered down Butterfly Effect with some synthesizer thrown in and a larger desire to crack commercial radio. Mostly, the band find themselves in a more derivative and sterile state than ever before, and you need look no further than the album's very first track to find a perfect example of this. "Talking To Himself" is a song that barely has an original bone in its entire body: it nicks the Soft Cell "Tainted Love" chord progression, has lyrics about Romeo and Juliet and features Dan Sutherland's comatose-inducing vocals that sound like a drugged-up Joel Madden. As a matter of fact, most of the album sounds like cuts from Good Charlotte's last album, the atrocious Good Morning Revival
. If that sounds unappetizing, be prepared for the absolute worst - the rest of the album is destined to leave a bad taste.
The Air Between
has all the calling cards of an "alternative" band trying to sound as mainstream as possible. The production is squeaky clean, every track is under five minutes and the squelching synths parade over the top of gimmicky electronic beats and Livejournal angst lyrics. "They Murder" is unlistenable from its chorus onwards (sample lyrics: "They murder!/They murder!/They murder!/They murder!"), "Drama Drama" shoots for a hit single and lands as a Pendulum B-side, "SOSOS" is pointless anti-authoritarian drivel and "A Devil Once Said" sounds as if the only reason it exists is to be a wrestler's entrance theme song. What is the most confusing about this sudden artificiality is that it's a sound that is more likely than not to deter fans of the band's previous work without ensuring there'll be new ones to pick up the slack. Rather than actually sounding like a professional, humourless rock band, they sound like they're trying to be one. Why anyone, especially such a young band, would want to fit into that kind of slot is anyone's guess, but rest assured it certainly doesn't work in their favour.
The Air Between
is vapid, hollow and unpleasant. More industrialised than industrial, MM9 have transitioned into pop-rock for meatheads and it doesn't appear there's any turning back. Just don't say they've sold out - it's generally understood you have to have some kind of major commercial success in order to do so. The Air Between
is more a radio-rock wet dream than a reality.