Review: MUTEMATH – Odd Soul

Sometimes an album cover doesn’t accurately represent the music within.  To me, this is one of those albums.  Now, I’m not a graphic designer, but for some reason, in my mind I see a black cover with a color wheel on it—something like this:

Or like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon if Hipgnosis hadn’t thought of it first.  The chosen cover for MUTEMATH’s Odd Soul looks to me like an alternative rock album from the late 90s (no offense), unlike the actual music contained within, which sounds like a less garage-y Black Keys crossed with Radiohead if Radiohead decided to be catchy.  Little pop hooks explode in unexpected ways, like tiny fireworks shooting off over your shoulder. Touches of early 70s rock, psychedelia, prog (don’t be scared), and hip-shakin’ funk and soul set the band apart from many of their modern rock peers.  (Being from New Orleans, it’s not too surprising they like “mixin’ up the medicine” into a tasty voodoo stew.)

If you want something else that sets them apart, they’re actually a Christian-rock band—of sorts—whose lyrics can be interpreted in myriad ways, the same way that U2  straddle the line between the secular and the spiritual (who moves in mysterious ways, Bono?). Apparently, MUTEMATH are quite open about trying to speak from an honest place in their lyrics while attempting to reconcile their beliefs with the desire to reach a wider audience than a “Christian” label would allow them. Chances are, if I hadn’t mentioned it, you would never have known; just like I had no idea until I heard the album half a dozen times and then looked up their Wikipedia page.  MUTEMATH’s previous two albums achieved a modicum of success—including a Grammy nomination—but pale in comparison to the muscular, laser-focused, unified sound of Odd Soul.

Mutemath – Prytania

Mutemath – Blood Pressure

Mutemath – One More

* Admission: the band’s original guitarist left the group prior to this album so the two pictures above which show four band members are actually out of date.  But I don’t care—I like the pictures, they’re the ones I’m using.  Rock & Roll is messy.

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