By Ellen Eldridge
My interest in Mutemath reached its peak when I heard the term “mathrock,” because I assumed Mutemath would use more than the standard 4/4 time signature. I expected something of an intellectual band rich with musical texture, and style. Honestly, I don’t know why I thought this way. Mutemath played it Armistice Tour in the fall of 2009, and I heard them while covering the support act As Tall As Lions. Again, I felt intrigue and liked what I heard from the stage, but never gave the music much of a chance. With the release of Odd Soul, I can wrap my mind around the song structure and intelligent lyrics.
The theme in single “Blood Pressure” gives pause in consideration of the process Mutemath (Paul Meany (vocals/keyboards), Roy Mitchell-Cardenas (bass/guitar), and Darren King (drums)), did for their recording process. The band self-produced its third release after locking themselves down at Meany’s home studio in New Orleans, and they didn’t emerge until they were ready to play it for others. “The idea of complete isolation was the only thing that appealed to us. No camera guys, no producers, no engineers, no record label people, no management. No one would hear or comment on what we were doing until we were done,” Meany says. “We didn’t want to make blurry music. We set out to record something that was unapologetically us.”
Songs like “All or Nothing” carry an industrial quality without sounding like they belong in an ecstasy-filled rave. The melodies on the keyboard drive along with a simple drum beat, and the melody of the vocals keep listeners from drifting into obscurity while allowing them to wander. The spacey feeling will attract fans of more jam-oriented bands, but Mutemath contains itself in more of a rock orientation.
I must have been mistaken in thinking Mutemath wrote odd-timed songs because the rhythms stay straightforward, but the lyrical quality and constitution of Odd Soul lend well to an intelligent and passionate audience. The band does well to capture a mix of genres in its presentation. Mutemath recently sold out the 4o Watt in Athens, but fans can find Odd Soul and more information on the band at www.mutemath.com