Album Review: Mutemath – Vitals

Mutemath take a departure from their past with their new album Vitals.

Text Review:

Hearing the electronic infused side of upbeat alternative bands is pretty common in 2015.  Bands like Chvrches, Walk The Moon, and Saint Motel are becoming mainstay acts and gaining fans in hordes for their unique style.  Finding that unique sound and not being compared to or being labeled as a copycat of another band in the new alternative scene can be a big challenge.

Fortunately for New Orleans natives MUTEMATH, their sound is already unique to a wide audience AND their own fan base.  After a Grammy nomination and three previous studio albums, MUTEMATH are well in the groove of their music careers.  The impressive feat about this is that they don’t want to stay settled in that groove.  In other words, they are still trying to branch out in their creativity.

In an interview with Fuse about their new album VITALS, Paul Meany said: “I would certainly say it’s a departure a bit. We changed up the formula and palette of sound. The way we looked song ideas and how we dressed them; we tried to get away with as little as we would do to a song. That was process of growth for us, because we had never put those kind of parameters on ourselves.”

So with the upcoming album Vitals we are being told about a deviation from their past records and what earned them their growing audience since their days at playing Lollapalooza five years ago.  Sometimes when you hear that a band you like is trying to shake things up, it can end up as a disaster – but there have been other times where it turns out great.

When the first single Monuments was released on Sirius XM it demonstrated hints of evolution and change, but in all honesty it still wholly felt like the same style from the same band.  And that is meant as a compliment.

It may be November right now but Monument feels like an early summer song at the beach.  The synthesized beat is subtle and adds the right texture behind Meany’s voice.  The chorus elevates just enough to make this song pick up and make your head nod without giving too much energy and rush.  Lyrically the song is very simple and limited but that also adds to the songs strength as being upbeat and catchy.

The added technical effects are present and add to the stated “departure” for the new album, but Monument still feels very much like a MUTEMATH song.  The biggest deviation looking back at previous works like Chaos in 2007 is that they’ve calmed down their energy a bit.  The band has found a way to get the rhythm across without the raised guitar levels and energy.

And I think that is the main takeaway that long time fans will receive when listening to MUTEMATH – they have mellowed over the past decade.  Even with added levels of electronic effects and reverb you can still tell that the pace has been steadied for the band.  Songs like Used To prove that.

Lyrically Used To sounds much stronger than the album’s first single Monument.  The vocals are serene and the chorus feels moving, but the ever present reverb DOMINTATES the track when being played – as if every other instrument is in another room while the distortion button is being hammered on.  The song is not bad, but the overdone effects and abrupt conclusion do take you out of the moment.

The direction and deviation that MUTEMATH have taken undeniably feels in a step towards the current trends.  That’s not to say they are cashing in though, because Vitals sounds unique and still defining of the band.  Even if the intensity isn’t as strong from five years ago, the new style still has plenty to move to.

MUTEMATH are a consistently strong band in what they produce.  Regardless of the direction they take they are still capable of pulling off music that makes you want to come back for more.  That’s a talent many bands in the alternative scene dont have – let alone keeping that trait for over ten years.

Overall, Vitals may not hit as hard as past albums, but the mood and rhythm will keep you more than satisfied.  If you enjoy hypnotic trance of distorted beats dabbed on your feel good music than MUTEMATH have exactly what you need with this album.

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Album Review: Mutemath – Vitals