Mutemathâ€™s music has always seamlessly blended driving indie rock with psychedelic funk, blues and soul, all the while sprinkling in healthy doses of electro-pop. But on their newest offering, â€œOdd Soulâ€, it seems like the band is out to prove something.
Sure, lead singer and keyboardist Paul Meanyâ€™s trademark electronic textures and soulful vocals are ever present, while bassist Roy Mitchell-CÃ¡rdenas and drummer Darren King constantly provide the driving thump that gives the band its heavy influence of funk.
But where the bandâ€™s first two albums were filled with quieter moments bridged by delicately balanced dynamics, the new album replaces that void with aggression and bravado.
Donâ€™t get me wrong â€“â€“ Mutemath has always had a bit of an edge to their sound â€” just not quite like this. So whatâ€™s changed?
Formed in New Orleans in 2003, the band experienced a shakeup in their lineup since releasing their last album. In April, the band announced that original guitarist Greg Hill had left the band the previous October.
This move seemed puzzling at first. The band was just coming off the high of critical acclaim for their second album, 2009â€™s stellar â€œArmistice.â€ The band is also widely revered for their stunningly energetic and acrobatic live shows.
Now that Iâ€™ve heard their new album, the reason for the change is apparent.
New guitarist Todd Gummerman adds an entirely new dynamic to the band.
Where Hillâ€™s playing was more subtle and blended beautifully into the bandâ€™s sound, Gummermanâ€™s riffs are big, in your face and demand your attention.
Listening to the albumâ€™s title track, â€œOdd Soulâ€ showcases the albumâ€™s Black Keys- meets-Zeppelin-in-Motown vibe. Other standout tracks on the edgier side are â€œBlood Pressure,â€ and â€œTell Your Heart Heads Up.â€
Conversely, the track â€œAll or Nothingâ€ harkens back to the bandâ€™s original atmospheric, mellow indie sound before morphing into an electronic techno dance jam.
Tracks like â€œWalking Paranoiaâ€ showcase the bandâ€™s funkier side and sense of humor with lyrics like, â€œI am a nervous wreck. Jesus is coming back, gonna catch me at the porno rack.â€
Becoming more ambitious with each album, Mutemath has once again triumphed over their previous release. Thereâ€™s no doubt that this bandâ€™s sound is still evolving. I, for one, canâ€™t wait to see what comes next.
Odd soul and music lover Joe Vajgrt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.