Sometimes bands decide to go in a different direction and change their sound completely. A couple examples of this kind of a change that come to my mind include The Showdown’s radical change from the straight-up death metal of their debut album to the Pantera-influenced classic hard rock sound of their sophomore release, as well as Panic! at the Disco’s shift from the Fall Out Boy-inspired pop rock of their debut to the slower folk sound of their second album Pretty. Odd.
When bands make a stylistic shift like this, they risk alienating their die-hard fans; however, they also stand to gain new listeners who wouldn’t have been interested before. The chance of gaining new listeners is especially high if they make the change well, and make just as awesome music in their new style as in the old. This is what Mutemath has done with Odd Soul, and that’s why it’s worth listening to.
Mutemath is a band that’s known for doing things that are just downright interesting. Interesting things they’re known for include having a singer who plays a keytar, releasing a debut album chock-full of truly innovative electro-rock, and creating the coolest music video of all time. In fact, the video for “Typical” is so cool that I’d be wronging you not to include it in this review, so here it is. This is one of those YouTube videos that truly is worth watching.
Alright, so we’ve established that Mutemath isn’t your average band. That said, the stylistic change they’ve made with Odd Soul is atypical even for them. Their debut album Mutemath was a innovative blend of electro-rock, and their follow-up Armistice didn’t do too much to change the formula. With Odd Soul, though, Mutemath have somewhat ditched their straight-up electro-rock sound in favor of a very blues rock-influenced sound complete with a 70s-style organ.
Luckily, this is a welcome change and I can say that Odd Soul is not only worth your time, but in my opinion a contender for rock album of the year. It’s catchy, stylish, and innovative – not surprising given that it’s by Mutemath. You’ve still got the excellent drumming of Darren King that helped the band stand out so much, and it still retains the electro-rock roots of the past albums along with the band’s penchant for off-kilter rhythms that eschew conventionalism.
While Mutemath retains many of the elements they always had in their music, Odd Soul brings something new to the table: memorability. Although their debut was amazing (Armistice was good, but not quite up to the debut’s level), only a few of the songs were truly memorable. Looking back, I can name Chaos and Reset as the ones that stuck in my head. With Odd Soul, almost every song is memorable. As another reviewer said of the album, you can’t help but think that this Black Keys-influenced music is what Mutemath was truly born to play.
With this as an introduction, I invite you to hit Play on the included playlist and see what the new Mutemath have to offer. I’ve included five songs from the new album, as well as one song (Chaos) from the debut so you can decide if you like this change or not.
Note: You may have noticed that this week’s article is titled “Study Music” rather than “Study Album of the Week”. In fact, this series is still called Study Album of the Week, and you’ll continue to see it named as such in the header image. So why did I change the title of the blog post? Simple: Google. Firstly, Google only displays the first 60 characters of a blog post title; by using the pre-text “Study Music”, more of the album’s title will come up in search results. Secondly, the term “study music” is searched for way more and “study album”, so using it should help people find these articles more easily.