The Republic Tigers
Mind Over Matter


3.5
great

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
June 5th, 2020 | 12 replies


Release Date: 06/05/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A time capsule

It only took twelve years for The Republic Tigers to release their follow-up to 2008’s Keep Color. The massive stretch of time that passed isn’t even the oddest thing about Mind Over Matter’s release – it’s that the band has had the LP completed since 2012. Originally pushed back due to what vocalist Kenn Jankowski vaguely referred to as “issues”, their sophomore full-length eventually ended up being totally shelved after parting ways with their major label. A slew of legal complications made releasing the album a pipe dream until recently, when their new label (The Record Machine) was able to untangle that mess for them. So here we are in 2020 listening to Mind Over Matter exactly how it was supposed to be released in 2012; it hasn’t been remastered, remixed, or altered in any way. It’s the closest thing to a musical time capsule that you might encounter.

Mind Over Matter bursts at the seams with the sort of raw energy and shimmering production that you’d expect from The Republic Tigers. It’s equal parts Midlake and The Shins, fusing sugary melodies with slick production to form an extremely palatable product that would be at home on any generic “indie” Spotify playlist. The Republic Tigers’ greatest strength is also their most noticeable weakness – these songs are so smooth and accessible that they are almost transparent. They’re from the old indie-pop train of thought where the brighter and more sparkly the music is, the better. As a result, it’s likely to divide listeners into two camps: those who want more grit and personality, and those who don’t care and just want to have a good time.

The album’s best trait outright is its consistency. Just as Mind Over Matter is too pleasant to offend, it never becomes overly complacent to the point of boredom. ‘Falco Peregrinus’ kicks the experience off with iridescent synths, a chorus catchy enough to rival the band’s calling-card single ‘Buildings and Mountains’, and lyrics that proved to be politically foretelling: “It’s time we build a wall / that keeps us thinking small.” They show off their savvy by following a track so glistening with something a little rougher around the edges, and we get that in the amped up electric guitars and adrenaline-pumping rhythm of ‘Somethin’ Fierce.’ This is a tradeoff that they showcase throughout Mind Over Matter, and although The Republic Tigers never come exploding out of any genre boundaries, it’s enough to keep the record feeling fresh spin after spin.

Not every song is infectious enough to leave a lasting impression, but the highlights are strategically placed to ensure that there’s always something on the horizon. After the superb one-two punch to open the record in ‘Falco Peregrinus’ and ‘Somethin’ Fierce’, we get ‘Take It Out On Me’ to start Mind Over Matter’s midsection – a sugary, swaying midtempo track with high-pitched, harmonic backing vocals. The crescendo of atmospheric guitars and strings see ‘Kingsly’ inject some urgency into the album’s latter half, while the closing pair of “bonus” tracks (‘Meet the Smartest Man’ and ‘Orion’, which are included standard for whatever reason), offer up a forlorn ballad and a bubbly, arpeggiated synth-wrapped closer that’s reminiscent of the New Pornographers’ Brill Bruisers. Thus, as Mind Over Matter chugs along with its optimistic brand of indie-pop, you’re never that far from an absolute gem.

All things considered, it’s nice to see The Republic Tigers’ sophomore effort finally see the light of day. Even as a blast from the past, it still carries some unexpected relevance – from select lyrical passages to musical directions that became trends after this album was written behind closed doors in 2012. It’s an extension of Keeping Color – another easily digestible yet highly enjoyable exercise in upbeat indie-pop that is meant to dominate a specific niche. Mind Over Matter does that quite well, even if it’s not much of an artistic expansion for this group. Then again, even in its fully finished form, it’s nearly a decade old – so perhaps less emphasis should be placed on stylistic evolution than the fact that this even exists; a minor miracle in itself.





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3.3
great
related reviews

Keep Color

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
June 5th 2020


35301 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Keep Color was my jam back in the day. This is also pretty great. Simple but enjoyable indie-pop and a blast from 2012 - which is when this was completed/mixed/mastered, for anyone who didn't bother reading the review.

Digging: Westelaken - Westelaken

AsleepInTheBack
Contributing Reviewer
June 5th 2020


6543 Comments


where the heck are you pulling these from!? if I have to write more than a couple of sentences in one go i begin to hyperventilate...

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
June 5th 2020


19925 Comments


[2] these AOTD blurbs have been killing me

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 6th 2020


35301 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

those are just reviews I've had written for several months and finally decided to publish, not necessarily an AOTD collage. should have some true AOTD types coming up though.

about this album, if you're a fan of grandiose indie-pop be sure to at least check out the embedded song

themainmast
June 9th 2020


275 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Kingsley is the only song that's at the same level of songwriting quality as Keep Color.

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 11th 2020


35301 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Kinda disagree, it's pretty much on par IMO. Nothing as towering as 'Buildings & Mountains', but Falco Peregrinus, Somethin' Fierce, Take It Out on Me, Kingsly, and Orion are all great.

Feather
June 11th 2020


6009 Comments


Got excited thinking this had something to do with The Republic of wolves

rufinthefury
June 11th 2020


3130 Comments


fam I remember getting Buildings and Mountains as the iTunes Free Single of the Week when I was in like 5th grade or some shit like that. I'm out of college now. It's been that fucking long for them to release a follow up album? Yeesh

sharkmsc
June 11th 2020


316 Comments


For some reason, I can remember when the "Buildings and Mountains" single came out like it was yesterday. That was back when I was still regularly downloading those free iTunes tracks. A musical time capsule, indeed.

sharkmsc
June 11th 2020


316 Comments


Oh hello comment above :D

ZackSh33
June 12th 2020


687 Comments


Great to see these guys back. "Merrymake It With Me" was always a favorite. Hopefully we hear more from em soon.

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 16th 2020


35301 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

iTunes free single is probably how I found out about them as well. They're not a huge band in my life but I've always enjoyed their sprightly, shimmering indie-pop. This is no different.



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