Album: Mute Math: s/t|
Street Date: January 2006
Reviewed by: Stephanie
Consisting of Greg Hill (guitars), Paul Meany (vocals/rhodes/keytar/atari), Darren King (drums/samples/programming), Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas (bass), Mute Math pushes the boundaries of conceivable music with every new song. Having built upon the word of mouth regarding their EP and amazing energy level at shows, they launched a tour releasing their debut self-titled CD. Little can be said other than the band defies the normal standard, and certainly will be seen to grow from a poorly-kept secret to a well-known success in the near future. This band is one of the most refreshing acts to come along in a long while, and this album is just a taste of what they have the potential to serve.
1. Collapse – Driven by drums, this instrumental leads you into the album with faint vocals haunting towards the end, and eventually builds into...
2. Typical – Picks up in the fading end of track 1 with a guitar riff that you cannot dislike. This song serves as a catalyst not only on the record, but lyrically reflects moments in life where you feel like everything you been through, every experience, every encounter, every trial, every triumph, has led you to this point. When you have to decide at the fork in the road to go either right or left, to take a chance or play it safe. This song is about wanting something more and picking up and going for it—changing what you’ve been. The guitar riff that opens the song drives through it musically complements the song in that it gets you moving and makes you want more.
3. After We Have Left Our Homes – Asking, “When can we start over?” this lyrically simple, relatively instrumental song calms the listener down after “Typical” and serves as the lead in to track 4. It gives vocalist Meany a chance to show his chops in the range department. I found this song relevant to either leaving Eden or leaving New Orleans, the band’s hometown.
4. Chaos – No new song, Mute had been performing this song on tour for months previous to the release of the album, as well as posting it on MySpace for download sometime around Christmas. However, because of the musical dynamic, you can hardly tire of it. It’s simultaneously an off-the-wall praise song and a love song of sorts for anybody thankful for another in their life. It’s also very high-energy, so of either of the two that applies to any listener, it cannot go wrong.
5. Noticed – A personal favorite, “Noticed” describes a realm of love that is oft experienced and not nearly as often communicated. It describes the moment the walls come down and you let God / a lover in. Little can be said to do this song justice; it just sticks out as a strong number because it’s relatable without crossing the boundary into the Land of Cheese, and still so innovative in musical technique that it’s hard to find comparison. Great song.
6. Without It – As Mute Math is from New Orleans, there are a few songs that make you wonder if they were inspired by the Katrina tragedy. More or less a ballad of the Mute Math variety, where do you begin if all you have has been removed? “Without It” serves as another inspiring message reminding people of the higher priorities in life. 7. Polite – Another instrumental tie, “Polite” is relatively mellow and somehow calming. It’s also very simple, and you don’t really notice it as a song separate from “Without It.”
8. Stare At the Sun – Certainly one of the more musically bizarre songs on the record, this is the point where Mute puts to use the instruments few others think to include. It describes trying to solve a problem by staring right at the source of it so hard that you’re blinded and nothing comes from the effort. It’s a strong metaphor, and certainly anybody can relate to being frustrated at trying to figure something out and hitting a wall. However, the band proposes that maybe we know all we need to know and don’t need to struggle for more. If nothing else, it is a song of contentedness.
9. Obsolete – This song serves a similar to function as “Polite,” but it repeats the title of track 8 as the only vocals. Songs such as these give the band a chance to show that they don’t actually need lyrics to engage the listener, but can create a mood using lyrics alone.
10. Break the Same – If any song seamlessly transitions from high- to low- energy, it’s this song. The unique qualities of Meany’s vocals, I think, are shown through this song. They are also effortlessly adaptive the musical shifts in this song, from calm to chaotic. “Break the Same” reminds us that all of us are equal, all of us fall apart, all of us have weaknesses that tie us together as humans.
11. You Are Mine – The poignant, simple ballad of the disc, it puts a new spin on a worship song: too often it is the people on the outside of the church branded with some sort of fanaticism, some addiction, and it’s considered unhealthy. The band here points out that it’s the same for those inside the church….lyrically it very simply describes the same reckless abandonment for something higher. It’s also a great reminder of priorities, and what satisfies. At the end, Meany clarifies the hierarchy repeating “they hold high their prized possessions” but adding “…they don’t have a prize possession…” before kicking back into the chorus. On an already strong album, this song stands out all the more.
12. Picture – The tempo picks back up a little bit for this song, and like “Without It” sounds as if it was inspired by Hurricane Katrina. Meany examines a picture of himself and his loved ones, presumably primarily his wife, seeing all the potential and in turn, everything that has changed. A highly sentimental song, “Picture” reminds us to depend on love while there is still the chance.
13. Stall Out – This is a great, great song that is easily overlooked. Again, a simple song that allows Meany to show his vocal range as well as the band’s ability to engage the listener with a very, for lack of a better word, simple song. It’s dynamic enough to maintain attention and intrigue, but simple enough that it’s not really a mosh-to-this type of song. As a driver of a stick shift, I know firsthand the frustration of trying to make your car move but by missing a step in the process and thereby causing my engine to cop out on me. Apply this to your life—but this song reminds us of a hopeful future, as “we are still far from over.”
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