Review Summary: An odd soul, indeed.
'Odd Soul'...what a fitting title for this album. It certainly is the odd soul of the Mutemath discography, a complete 540 from anything they've done in the past. The album takes the core sound of Mutemath--that of an electro-rock band with mainstream-rock tendencies and an ear for off-kilter melody--and mixes an ample amount of blues rock (a la The Black Keys) to create something very surprising...and more importantly, very good.
The title track opens the album with whole thing off with a bang, and while upon first listen a fan of 'Keys might cry foul, there's a whole lot going on with the song that differentiates it--the sound that's created is much more bombastic, with trilling guitar notes and a very dominating repeated organ chord. Prytania
, one of the album's highlights, showcases a funky guitar groove and a handclap-worthy beat. Sunray
, a short, lounge-jazz mid-album break, brings back the instrumental noodling that most fans of the band have come to expect. , while closer In No Time
gives us one of the staples of a Mutemath album--that slow ballad-esque song at the end that leaves you feeling good for no reason at all. Really, the entire record is cohesive and consistent (not to mention fun
), and any single song has a chance to be a listener's favorite.
The best thing about 'Odd Soul', however, is that one gets the feeling that, despite how really damn good their self-titled debut was, THIS was the type of music that Mutemath was born to play. Paul Meany's imperfect raspy croons fit the fast-paced electro-blues-rock more naturally than anything the band had done prior, and his organ playing is the perfect compliment to this genre. Roy Mitchell-Cardenas sounds like he's having the time of his life playing bass on this record, if Blood Pressure
are any indication, and all three members of the band admirably fill in for the departed Greg Hill with some hard-hitting, memorable guitar chords throughout the album (see Odd Soul
for details). And dear goodness, those DRUMS! Darren King's drumming on Cavalries
may be the best individual performance on the entire album. It may take some getting used to, but as it turns out, Mutemath happen to be rather good at this stuff.
It's always sounded in the past like Mutemath was looking for their niche in the music world, and they may have found it with 'Odd Soul'. It still might not be the long-time fan's favorite album; there will certainly be those who say all the songs sound too similar, who pine for the extended instrumental tracks of band's debut, or who will refuse to separate this album from 'Brothers' (and there are those who still
haven't forgiven the band for 'Armistice'). If nothing else, though, 'Odd Soul' will certainly win the band some new followers, and if older fans can part this album from their previous works and give it an honest listen, they'll discover that it's not the odd black sheep, but rather the soulful dark horse of the band's catalogue.