Saturday, October 07, 2006

MuteMath Self Titled Debut Album Review

Several years back, I had a friend who really liked a band called Earthsuit and tried to turn me on to them. I listened and I really tried, but there was nothing about the band that I liked. The mixture of jazz, rap and rock just didn't really get me and I thought the lyrics were inane and the vocals weren't that great. How glad I am the band broke up.

From the ashes of Earthsuit rose 2 bands: the short lived Macrosick and my favorite band of the moment - MuteMath.

Paul Meany, lead singer of MuteMath, was, surprisingly, the rapper in Earthsuit. He decided to sing and has adopted a Police-era Sting raspy warble that suits the music that MuteMath does well. Paul is joined by former Earthsuit bassist Roy Mitchell-Cardanes and drummer Darren King, who played a few shows with Earthsuit before the band's lead singer had had enough of being showed up during their live shows. The 3 former Earthsuit members joined up with guitarist Greg Hill and the new MuteMath (originally called Math) was complete.

They put out an EP a couple of years ago and their fan base began to grow. The EP rocked hard in a way that Christian music wasn't used to and they became one of the most popular acts at the Christian Festivals. However, they didn't like becoming known as a Christian band, and as they worked on recording their debut album, they didn't allow Word Records any access, and eventually sued the label to be released from their deal.

They recorded their full-length debut on their own buck and put it out themselves, making it available only online and at their shows, and they sold a ton of copies. I got the album pretty early on by buying it from their website. Now, the album has been re-released on Warner Brothers, and with shows at Lollapalooza and on the Warped Tour under their belt, as well as features on the band on MTV and, the band is poised to take the music world by storm.

The album starts off with an interesting instrumental track, with a march-like snare and synthesizers causing strange noises in the background. Slowly the song dissolves into the first "real song" of the album, "Typical". The songs starts off with a U2-styled guitar riff, complete with semi-distorted AC30 sound awash with a sweet stereo delay. When the band kicks in, it is fully satistfying, and when Meany starts to sing, the effect is perfect.

We move from this song into an instrumental (with boys choir-like vocals awash in the background) that is in memorium of the band's hometown New Orleans. After this short track, we move on to the meat of "Chaos", which singularly has one of the best bass lines ever recorded. Darren King's drumming throughout the album is remarkably creative and he and Mitchell-Cardanes are just locked in a tight. I really don't know if I can think of many rhythm sections that are better than these 2. Also, on "Chaos", the understated guitar lines, and Meany's delayed Rhodes piano add a meat to the bones that the rhythm section lays down.

After "Chaos", we get a beautiful love song called "Noticed". When the lyrics "I never noticed my heart until I noticed you" arrives, it is just where it should be and brought a chill to my spine the first time I heard it. From "Noticed" we move on the more ballad-like "Without It", which is an okay track, but, along with the next instrumental track "Polite" do not make a statement to stand out.

"Stare At the Sun" and the following instrumental "Obsolete" allow MuteMath to delve into the more experimental side of their music. "Stare" is a fine 6/8 ballad that uses strange sounding 80's-type synthesizers, as well as Meany's trademark delayed rhodes and King's trademark all-over-the-place drumming. "Obsolete" focuses mainly on a fretless bass riff played delicately by Mr. Mitchell-Cardanes to perfection. "Obsolete" was definitely one of my favorite songs live, but I'm not sure it holds the same strength in album form...but I definitely enjoy the song.

"Break the Same" starts off the hardest of any MuteMath with a deep Moog synth blasting it's way to the forefront as Darren King's drums his little heart out. The song is a very good song and lifts the 2nd half of the album from it's own self-indulgence. Following "Break" is another 6/8 ballad, this one being a favorite of mine from the album (if not a standout track), called "You Are Mine".

Closing out the album is "Picture", which is a beautiful love song, and its following instrumental track called "Stall Out".

MuteMath shows a great deal of potential, both realized and unrealized on this, their debut full-length album. Their creativity is seemingly boundless, as they write great songs, and scratch their creative itch with their instrumentals and the production of the songs themselves. I have a feeling that these guys are going to make a large mark on popular music over the next few years and I would encourage you to jump on the bandwagon now to be able to say you knew them when they were a small band from New Orleans.


Will said...

Chris, I'm really enjoying this CD. Thanks for letting me borrow it.
You're right on. These guys are fascinating.

Kelsey said...

I didn't discover Earthsuit until I found Mute Math and did some digging. Earthsuit was incredible...

Macrosick isn't completely out of the question, according to Adam LaClave, the lead singer. He does have another band call Club of the Sons (with another former Earthsuit member on drums) and they were with MM for a few dates last tour. They might be too "out there" for you, but just in case you're interested, their myspace is

Anonymous said...

All in all, a very good, detailed review of the album. Although, I'm surprised you didn't enjoy 'Without It'... that's my favorite track! It's so beautiful, lyrically and musically.

Blake said...


I was wondering if you would be interested to do a review of my band Gentlemen At Arms new CD?

Bless God,

Blake Easter