REVIEW: MuteMath – Odd Soul

Artist: Mutehmath
Album: Odd Soul
Genre: Indie/Post Rock
Label: Teleprompt/Warner

When something happens enough times, a formula or procedure is developed, there is no longer a need for trial and error; all the kinks have been worked out, and everything gets easier, and faster. The first time I changed the brake pads on my car, for example, I lost a very large chunk of my finger, and I learned how much brake fluid stings when introduced to an open wound. But today, I can change all four corners in under half an hour, without losing an blood, or poisoning myself even once. It’s a novel concept, and I must say, I appreciate that I don’t have to sacrifice a bit of my finger every time I do that job. It got easy, I don’t even really need to think about it anymore. It isn’t as interesting as it was on my first attempt, but definitely easier. Unfortunately though, I feel like in some cases, that same principal is being applied to music, which is something it should never touch. The same formula is applied over and over until it’s simplified to the point where no blood will be spilled, and nothing can go wrong. It’s a very safe path to take, but not exactly an admirable one. It’s gotten to the point where taking the hard way is absurd, and oftentimes, bands fail spectacularly, which isn’t too fun for anyone. Now, it isn’t always a failure, Mutemath, for example, pulled of ‘the road less traveled’ brilliantly on Odd Soul, they don’t quite sound like anyone else, but not to the point where it’s alienating, it’s just very interesting. Mutemath come off with a very elaborate sort of indie sound on this album, which isn’t something I hear every day, nor anything I would have thought I would want to hear every day, but they have certainly proved that idea wrong.

I have a very methodic process when it comes to albums that I review, before I sit down and actually pay attention to the album, I put it on in the background while I’m working on something else, typically nothing more than white noise. Which seems odd, in many cases, I can listen to the entire album without even noticing, but if it’s a truly impressive album, which is rare, something will pop out at me, out of the background, out of the white noise, and make itself more apparently than the immediate task at hand. And that is precisely what happened when I first listened to Odd Soul, I was actually rather captivated by my unrelated work, but at one point, during “Prytania”, I actually had to stop, and physically said to myself, “Damn, that’s really good.” At which point I stopped what I was doing so I could check my iTunes to figure out what specific song I was listening to. That never happens. After that, I listen to it while I’m doing nothing else at all so I can devote all my attention to the album, which is where I uncovered other gems like the seven minute long “Quarantine”. And I usually listen to it again while I’m writing to gain further insight, but at this point, it’s really just because I want to listen to the album again.

Bands like Mutemath don’t really come about very often, they not only step out of the mold and try something new, something that doesn’t come about every day, but somehow, they pull it off with amazing aptitude as well. I’m even hesitant to advocate such a style of writing music, because most people simply aren’t capable of pulling it off, I hugely admire bands that can though, they are musicians and creative minds on an entirely different plane than us mere mortals. Bands like Mutemath, Mew, The Mars Volta, and so on, work in a way that I can’t comprehend, but I can admire endlessly. They don’t fall victim to the idea of a songwriting formula, used to make the lives of musicians easier, they take their own path. Mutemath doesn’t mind if they pinch their finger on a brake caliper, or spill brake fluid all over themselves; for most, it’s a mistake that won’t happen again, for them, it’s just a different path, leading to a more exciting end result.

Reviewed by: Mike Hogan

James Shotwell
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One Response to “REVIEW: MuteMath – Odd Soul”

  1. Tim Hewitt says:

    Excellent review… very true of this album. Although not sure why they didn’t get 100% :)