quinnbrandt
ok im on

 

taylor
Alright, so. Play Dead has been out for a week. We’ve obviously both been really anticipating its release since Vitals dropped in 2015; an album that’s probably in my top 5 at this point.

First impressions?

 

quinnbrandt
Yes. Play Dead. Very colorful, great balance of high energy tracks with slower piano ballads. It was a good mix between 2011’s Odd Soul and VItals. Vocally, I thought it was Paul Meany’s most creative work.

 

taylor
A lot of long time fans didn’t love Vitals because it was so stripped down and lacked some of the raw energy that was a trademark of their earlier LPs. I actually think Vitals and Play Dead are their two best albums to date, though. Play Dead brings the energy while retaining the color of Vitals.

Favorite tracks? Least favorite? Dig into some of the elements of why you love some of these songs

 

quinnbrandt
Right right, yeah in the same breath, Vitals did take me awhile to really appreciate the album has a whole. Like you said, not the same show as their previous, more, I don’t know, “classic alternative rock” songs you heard on their debut album. But I think any mark of a true band is exploring the unknown and I think they have successfully ventured into that arena with these last two.

Favorite tracks on Play Dead for me, Pixie Oaks, Nuiscance, Break the Fever, Everything’s New, Marching to the End

Pixie Oaks is the most fun track. Great riffs from Roy Mitchell-Cardenas who will be sorely missed, a lot of energy. Same with Break the Fever. Had flashes of Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson with it’s 80’s synth-pop chorus which I thought was their biggest risk from an element standpoint that really paid off.

 

taylor
Agreed. The bass tones in Break The Fever are peak Mutemath for me. That kind of attention to creative detail, in my opinion, is musical wizardry. Roy took an instrument that is largely ignored by many and made it sound incredible. Such a fun song.

Favorite tracks for me were Pixie Oaks, Hit Parade, Break The Fever, Placed On Hold, and Achilles Heel.

Pixie Oaks is just pure fun. I can’t avoid bobbing my head at my desk or in my car when it comes on. Excellent showcasing of Darren King here. Also love the bridge ft. Amelia Meany. it’s a fun singalong.

quinnbrandt
And that really brings up another point for me, really no lazy craftsmanship from any of the instruments in this one. I’m trying to find a least favorite song and it’s like picking your least favorite child. Hard to do on this one.

I didn’t particularly like Placed On Hold at first, I thought it was misplaced being a slightly slower song right after Nuisance, also a slower track, but it has a nice build up to the end leading into Everything’s New

Let’s discuss the future of Mutemath and what you think is next for them after this tour. Obviously, a tumultuous summer with the announcements of Roy and Darren leaving, which was shocking even to Paul and the other bandmates. What do you think?

taylor
I think the circumstances around each departure are pretty drastically different. Roy gave his reasons (family time), lots of notice, opportunity to find a replacement. His timing was good. DK leaving still smells of conflict. Right before a tour with no reasoning? I’m pretty bummed I won’t get to see them at work, but it sounds like the new guys are stepping up.

As far as their future, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is their last LP. I could see Paul branching out into solo work, but it’s very hard for me to believe in a future Mutemath record without the creative force of Roy AND Darren.

 

quinnbrandt
Its always easy to jump to conclusions on what may have happened with Darren and Paul, I know it gets harder and harder to keep bands together, and they certainly have been a dynamic force for over a decade now. Unfortunately I would have to agree with you. Recent interviews from Paul allude to a lot of unsettled feelings towards the departure of Darren. What’s a little eerie for me is their last track Marching to the End. Given the circumstances, it does create a weightier meaning at least for me as I listen to it.

 

taylor
I would actually like to piggyback on that thought and add that I think Nuisance carries some of that same weight

“I won’t trouble you”

Any thoughts on the lyrical themes on this one? One of the things I loved about Vitals is the really cohesive bonds that the theme of the album uses to tie the tracks together. I’m not sure I’ve picked up quite as much cohesion on Vitals

 

quinnbrandt
Vitals really did have a complete course that molded together very well. Play Dead is different. I think I’m still trying to fit the jigsaw pieces together. The tracks are so different, and a lot of interesting intros and outros on this record. You see this with the voice recording at the end of Hit Parade, and even musically, there’s distorted recordings of Stroll On at the end of Everything’s New which I loved. Achillees Heel had a lot of different elements in it musically as well. But lyrically I think there’s a strong connection that meanders throughout this album.

The biggest theme Paul weaves is the fact that everyone has to deal with change and the aspect of time. We’re all getting older, and we all want to soak in the good moments of life while the last.

He’s in his 40’s now and a lot of the tracks do surface around his grandfather in Hit Parade, and his daughter in Pixe Oaks to name a few.

 

taylor
Yeah good point. A lot of end of life contemplation – but not in a morbid way. More carpe diem than memento mori.

 

quinnbrandt
Right, it’s a more a celebration of sorts which the energy really communicates.

 

taylor
“I had a good life – I really did. I wore a hat and I smoked a pipe”

 

quinnbrandt
Yes! It was a great way to kick off the album.

 

taylor
In their overall discography, there have been some definite clues as to how Meany’s beliefs and faith have shifted over the last 11+ years. That’s really evident in Achilles Heel.

 

quinnbrandt
Definitely. I think Mutemath as a whole has had this self-created burden of being trapped inside this quasi-Christian/faith oriented band from their beginings as Earthsuit which has since dissolved and you’re right, a lot like faith it changes with the different experiences you have throughout life and I think Achilles Heel is a good representation of that.

It’s an honest take that sometimes faith is seen as element of comfort that rests on the shelf at times to use when needed but ultimately its more fluid concept that has a lot more ramifications in every day life.

Maybe I’m way out in left field on this one, but lyrically you could take Achilles Heel several different directions. What do you think?

There’s a lot of meat in this one for sure.

 

taylor
I pick up a tone that feels almost sardonic in this one. We haven’t seen that side of Paul much; someone known more for his pure-hearted captivation with life. To me, Achilles Heel sounds like it was written by a man who has been beaten down by the negativity of those around him.

As the song progresses from chill to chaos, we get a peek inside the way his mind bounces between points of view. Frustration with dogma and apparent contradiction in the behavior of his fellow Christians repels him from his core beliefs. I’m willing to bet that earlier on, Paul thought age would bring more security in his beliefs, but it seems he’s less sure of his footing than ever.

 

quinnbrandt
You can see him asking for answers to this quandary in the next track Marching to the End. “God give me time.” “Find a place to rest.” He obviously wants clarity but I think he is honest with us and has come to the conclusion that will never get every “t” crossed and “i” dotted in life.

It’s an open ended lyrical ending to Play Dead, which I think is a subtle reference to the notion that all of us will at some point have to come to terms with death and we all want to “play dead” instead of coming to terms with the unknown.

 

taylor
I think it’s a clever play on words. Playing dead is how many animals respond to danger, but it’s a response that prevents us from living fully. Playing dead is hardly living.

 

quinnbrandt
Final Rating?

 

taylor
8.5/10

 

quinnbrandt
8/10

*END SCENE*

Post that ish

I liked that format

#SlackReview