Review Summary: Catchy pop rock that just barely draws the genre line between Matty’s project and his full band
Matthew Mullins is best known as the vocalist for one of Rise Record’s biggest bands “Memphis May Fire” and has gathered a following for his powerful vocal style on both the clean and harsh ends of the spectrum; so when it was announced that he would be releasing a solo record, the hype was overwhelming. Sadly though, many had dashed hopes after hearing the two singles released for the album. These concerns were certainly warranted; when a track reminds you of Train’s “California 37” mixed with a sped up Joey Sturgis-esque Rise Record ballad, emptying the recycle bin is the first action that comes to mind. Luckily this wasn’t the case for the rest of the album. Matty Mullin’s solo debut has more than enough ear-latching vocal hooks and well produced pop rock numbers to keep the listeners attention, even if some of the cringe-worthy lyricism holds the overall effort back from being anything other than a decent listen.
As expected, Matty’s vocals fully dominate the album and he’s no slouch on the microphone; he easily hits highs without the plaguing quality of sounding whiny or nasally that a lot of vocalists in the genre seem to suffer. His voice can feel a bit repetitive at times, but that doesn’t stop his vocal lines in the chorus from being infectious. Matty’s harsh vocals are almost never used on this album, which is a shame due to his naturally crisp and powerful tone. One of the main problems of this album is derived not from how he’s singing, but from what he’s singing. A huge complaint about Memphis May Fire’s last album was that the lyricism was too preachy and egotistical; if you’re looking here for anything different, look away. Most of the lyricism revolves around the topic of his religious beliefs, and it’s a mixed bag. On one hand some of the songwriting is executed with taste, such as in album highlight “Normal Like You.”
Normal Like You
”I can't stop thinking about all the things that I see when I’m out on the road.
They tell me all their stories about their broken homes & their doubts and I hold it so close, it's killing me.
Call it a blessing in disguise,
but you’re not the one who feels the pain behind their eyes.”
It’s in segments like these that Matty shows he does have the potential to write religious lyricism without shoving it in the listener’s face; but then songwriting segments in tracks such as “99% Soul” made you wonder why you even bothered to download this album in the first place.
”1% body 99% soul.
Make me more like you.
Come on & make me whole!
I'm standing on solid ground because I know I’m 1% body 99% soul.”
The instrumentals on this album were hyped up to be poppy and fresh, but what everyone neglected to mention was that there’s barely any pop sounding instrumentals on this album; the majority of “Matty Mullins” is dominated by drum beats and simple, overproduced yet ear-latching guitar arrangements that get stuck in your head. Sure there are some subdued electronic lines such as “Come Alive”, but you almost have to strain to hear them. There are piano keys, strings and other instrumental inclusions littered throughout random tracks on the album but the only one that stands out among the rest is the keys which for some reason were put way too high in the mix; which brings me to the production, it’s a mixed bag. On one hand you’ve got impactful drums which form the backbone of most of the song structures, but on the other hand you have a guitar tone that sounds exactly like Memphis May Fire’s. While this does help separate Matty from his contemporaries in the pop rock genre, it doesn’t help separate him from Memphis May Fire.
This debut turned out to be an over-hyped and underwhelming release, only brought up from mediocrity due to Matty’s expected strong performance and some catchy instrumental arrangements. Hopefully Matty will do more on his next solo effort to separate himself from his own band without diving too far into the genre’s admittedly stale as of late sound territory.