Another trait shared with U2 is MuteMath’s ability to have a full and compelling sound even though no one instrument seems to be playing all that much. The ‘catchy as a cold’ first single, Spotlight showcases how they really do operate as a band rather than simply overdubbing a bunch of instruments on top of each other. Speaking of overdubs, what would a normal band use to build into the first big chorus – power chords? String pads? On Goodbye and Odds MM use violin and marimba/glockenspiels!
Meany’s world-weary lyrics about “our sad terminal democracy” on the latter seem to refer to how the band scrapped all the songs they’d already written on the road for this album and started again from scratch.
“I know it’s hard to say
We’ll throw it all away
But the odds are we’ll be better off”
Standout ballad Lost Year could almost be a Swell Season piano track but for the odd chord clusters in chorus. No instrument ever seems to be played conventionally or predictably for very long. Darren King’s drumming, often chopped up, distorted and compressed, is transformed on Pins & Needles into a gentle Jazz-like support for more string quartet oddness.
Closing track Burden opens like a driving INXS song but in the final few minutes becomes a plaintive and almost ambient meditation on the futility and fragility of the fallen condition. Built musically on the bridge of Spotlight, it’s a masterful Ecclesiastes like summation of the album’s theme.
“The devil is not the nature that is around us,
But the nature that is within us all”
This album is a grower, full of surprise and depth on every level.
You can buy Armistice here.