Mutemath are having a hard time making a misstep, not that they’re trying. They have made three studio albums, each of which builds off its predecessor in a way that demonstrates a consistent pattern of evolution while still maintaining their rock roots. It’s a bit of a success story through and through in that they are benefitting from the best of both worlds: their fan base and popularity is growing while they are gradually exploring new territory musically.
Their debut album, 2006’s Mutemath, had a more space-rock sound with ornate soundscapes and a full-bodied presence on songs like “Typical” and “Break the Same”. Since then, they have gone in a more lo-fi direction but still maintained production value. Odd Soul is full-bodied, but it feels more simple and straightforward. They now seem concerned with bringing the blues-based move-and-shake groove rather than preserving layered sounds on songs like “Prytania” and “Walking Paranoia”. Listeners get a simple presentation of traditional guitars coupled with the rhythm of bass and drums. Synthesizers, while present a small amount, aren’t as prevalent on Odd Soul as they were on tracks like “Break the Same” (Mutemath) and “Pins and Needles” (2009’s Armistice).
The thing that makes Mutemath’s music most enjoyable is that underneath all the grooves and musically enticing moments is an element of hope and inspiration. They seem aware that they’ve had ups and downs but are hopeful for what the future may bring. It seems fitting that some of the lyrics to the album’s last song “In No Time” are, “Where’s your nerve gone / And where’s your hope? / And where’s that sunrise you’ve been waiting for? / And where’s that one day you got it all? / Well I bet we’ll find it in no time at all / We’ll find it in no time at all.”
Mutemath have always had nerve and hope, but if they are going in search of more, then listeners should be in for something huge next time around.