Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Shawn Biggs
This is a bit of an admission of guilt, though it's more one of ignorance. It had nothing to do with the band or their music, it's just that MuteMath had never been paid much mind up until the end of last year. There's a chance I'd listened to a stray song here or there, but it must not have done anything and - with the abundance of stuff that we all have available to us to listen to - the very thought of the New Orleans-based band was dropped far down the list of priorities. It's just that, when it comes to music, that second listen, or another chance to convert you over, doesn't happen all that often. It's a tried it, didn't like it, moving on sort of thing. It's neither fair nor good, as everyone matures and morphs, hopefully age makes everyone grow a little more interesting and thoughtful in their art, and there's nothing to say that anyone's right or anyone's wrong. Where I failed with MuteMath, years and years ago, was in not giving them my time - not much of it at least - for had I done so, I would have likely found the markings and makings of their latest record, "Odd Soul," cropping up in those older songs. While admittedly still not having re-explored the back catalog, there's a chance that I wouldn't have heard this new vibrancy and attitude in those songs.
What lead singer/keyboardist Paul Meany, drummer Darren King, guitarist Todd Gummerman and bassist Roy Mitchell-Cardenas have built on this new record is more of an inferno than they've ever built before. It's an exquisite work that makes us think that it was conceived of and recorded in that house down in the Big Easy that Eric Burdon told us was called the rising sun. It's a record that has fever blowing out of it. It's worked up and it's something of a pistol, of a night filled with promise and wandering eyes and hot bed sheets. It's a celebration of not knowing how a night is going to play out. It's even more of a celebration of not knowing what a body is going to do to affect how that night is going to play out. Meany sings, "Why don't you do what you're told/Blood pressure," on the song, "Blood Pressure," and it could be an indication of not being able to control oneself, or it could be an admonishment of the outside factors that can't help but ignite the fires in him. We don't have any control over what makes us blush or sends that sneaky charge into our nethers, any more than we have control in stifling a sneeze. These can be problems, but there's just no stopping them when once the train has left the station.
"Tell Your Heart Heads Up," is a song on the loose. It might as well feature a car chase - with a man acting as the highway patrolman and the woman playing the part of the fugitive who doesn't want to be caught - with two people tearing down the road, one in the hottest of pursuits. "Odd Soul" is an album steeped in arena rock grandness, only with heavy soul and rhythm and blues, not just big bridges and choruses only meant to rattle the beer vendor wells and the hockey goals pushed off to the side. It's rock and roll that deals with the devilishness of humanity and how entertaining it can be. When Meany sings, "The trials and the tribulations always seem to track me down," he doesn't seem all that down about it. It's a big part of the appeal, that hunt and that chase.