MUTEMATH is not your typical rock band. Their sound is a well-developed fusion of a number of styles including indie rock, reggae, electronica, and new wave. Formed in 2004 and composed of two members of the indescribably inventive Earthsuit, MUTEMATH's sound is a little more organic, but still borrows from the former group's electronic soundscapes. The group is made up of lead singer Paul Meany (vocals, bass, Rhodes), Darren King (drums, samples, programming), and Greg Hill (guitars).
MUTEMATH has received a deluge of critical praise starting with the 2004 Reset EP. Declared by Alternative Press as "the #1 band you need to see live before you die." Anchored by King, who's a complete madman on the drums and led by Meany's soulful vocals, they've earned a reputation of putting on mind-blowing live shows. There's plenty of experimental electronic instrumentation including Meany's use of the long forgotten keytar. The resulting sound is a fusion that delivers a wide variety of sounds meshed together to form MUTE MATH's recognizable and fully-realized sound.
With Armistice, MUTEMATH set out to "embarrass the first record," according to lead singer Paul Meany. Meany warned in an interview with Morning Call, "Anyone who thinks the first album is perfect will hate this [new] record. If you heard the first record and liked some stuff about it [but] think things could improve, you may like it. It's important for us to change up the formula." And all MUTEMATH fans should take heed. Songs on Armistice range from the stripped down, piano driven "Lost Year" to the fun, indie rock dance-inducing "Spotlight" that was featured on the Twilight Soundtrack.
It took me a while to get passed my nostalgic connection to MUTEMATH's 2006 self-titled album and look at Armistice on its own. The alternative electro-rock sound of the previous album was right down my alley. This time out, some of the tracks venture much further into poppy territory. While, the songs are still very well written and well produced. They are just not what I was expecting. After a week of listens, I feel that I can give a fair review of Armistice without focusing too much on comparisons to their earlier work.
Armistice opens with the high energy rock track "The Nerve". It's tinged with some distorted sounds that give it that MUTEMATH stamp. The mid-tempo "Backfire" is the album's second single and my favorite track. Here, like an homage to Murphy's Law, Meany recounts another "surefire plan that backfired again". The track exudes MUTEMATH's unique sound and has an addictive hook. "Backfire" is also one of the more electronic tracks on an album where the group's sound is expanding greatly.