What U2 are to the modern worship movement Mutemath could be to postmodern indie rock worship. Channelling it, perfectly expressing it, transcending it, and ultimately defining it. The band that every other band sounds a little bit like. The most influential band in the genre without actually being in the genre. Maybe.
I’m not saying they particularly SOUND like U2. Mutemath don’t really sound like any one of their closest ‘competitors’. For one thing there’s a organic feel that earths even their most programmed moments, giving them a humanity that David Crower Band’s relentless barrage of bleeps (AKA ‘Church Music’) never gets close to.
For another the funky atmosphere of the band’s native New Orleans is a missing ingredient in most bands but simmers away in the background here like a spicy pan of gumbo. The spirits of George Porter Jr. & Zigaboo Modeliste hover around title track Armistice like funky guardian angels. (In fact the only disappointment with the album is that the barebones remix of Armistice showcasing the Rebirth Brass Band isn’t here – but you can listen to it here or on Under The Radar’s podcast).
Album opener Nerve has singer Paul Meany’s most Bono-like lyrics
“This world’s like a wounded martyr worried if his commitment is gone”
but where U2 want to save the world MM just want to “set it on fire.”
Backfire kicks off with a beguiling constantly detuning guitar. Guitarist Greg Hill may be from the Edge school of minimalism but he paints his own pictures with his own colours.
Presumably taking it’s name from the uber-distorted bass intro Clipping is overlaid with skittering drums and classical piano arpeggios. In place of a guitar solo we get a string quartet swooping and screeching and capturing the song’s desperation and confusion perfectly.