Review Summary: Sparks fading.
For a scene that is slowly starting to regain the momentum it once had, what better upcoming band to best show this than I The Mighty. Starting as an explosive band with plenty to prove, through the course of two albums, they've become a hot act that showed no signs of slowing down. Though they began to reduce their 'explosiveness', it became far more meticulous and resulted in those moments really sticking with the listener. So, with Where the Mind Wants to Go/Where You Let It Go
, it feels as if we've ended up with something too
reduced. An album that strips away what made them such an exciting act, and all that's left is a performance that lacks the character and charm of their earlier releases.
Leading up to the album, it was exciting to see vocalist/guitarist Brent Walsh (via his Facebook) mention that this was the first album not influenced by a breakup prior to writing. Finally, we were going to have more of 'The Fox and the Hound' or 'Cutting Room Floor'. Sadly, it seems we've just ended up with more girl-centric songs. Tracks like 'Pet Names' ("Use to call me baby/Now you never call me back") and 'The Sound of Breathing' ("If you can't see yourself with me than what/Is left to say/We're falling apart") stumble back on the idea of relationships, and three (four if you count 'We Speak') albums in it wouldn't go unnoticed if the lyricism shifted elsewhere. It's a shame, too, as Where the Mind...
finds Walsh giving a fantastic performance. His higher register is both soothing and gripping, carrying the otherwise wayward lyricism. Lead single 'Silver Tongues' is perhaps one of the best songs the band has written, a perfect mix of social commentary and band interaction, which includes a fantastic feature from Tillian of Dance Gavin Dance, and the track 'Where the Mind Wants to Go' is as close as the album gets to their past work, and is far better for it, with a perfect mix of their new sound and the older, more fast-paced implementation.
And that's what hurts even more; the band sound better than ever, but feel far more reserved than they should be. 'Escapism' is a fun track that opens with a genuinely Muse-esque riff and rides it for a majority of the track, but doesn't really evolve much further from that. The song also includes the line "I think I'll eat this whole pizza to myself". Charming. When the band strays away from its typical formula, such as on 'Chaos in Motion', it uncharacteristically stumbles, struggling to get off the stadium-rock backdrop they enforce on the track, lacking the power as both a single and an album track. It also includes another lyrical gem in the form of "I told my boss to *** himself". And throughout Where the Mind
, the problem persists. Songs either lack the gut punch of their earlier releases, particularly in the openers (try comparing 'Speak to Me' & 'Lady of Death' with 'Degenerates') and closers ('The Quick Fix' & 'The Frame I' with 'Where You Let it Go'). The power of each instrument is there; Chris' bass is prominent and always provides a catchy backbone, both Brent and Ian add flair to their dual-guitar arsenal, and Blake, although far from his earlier work, adds enough percussion elements to still be a force to be reckoned with, but the reduction of their post-hardcore elements, in combination with the slower pace of much of the album, results in these elements going both unnoticed and unwarranted.
As a result, Where the Mind...
really struggles to get off the ground, and when it does, it's far too late to save the album from failing as both a post-hardcore album and as a meaningful progression from their past work. Despite containing some great tracks, particularly 'Silver Tongues', the shedding of their post-hardcore skin leads to a listen that is missing the fire that was raging earlier in their career. Although the album is still enjoyable, it pales in comparison to their earlier work, and finds the spark in I The Mighty's eyes beginning to fade.
Recommended tracks: Silver Tongues, Where the Mind Wants to Go