Album Review: Mutemath – Vitals (2015 LP)

I confess, somewhat shamefully, that Mutemath have only ever existed for me on the peripheral of my musical consciousness. I’ve known about them, primarily, through a friend who has raved about them for years, but I’ve never managed to sit down and actively listen to anything they’ve released. Listening to their new album, Vitals, I can’t help but feel I’ve missed out.

The American alternative rock band – consisting of members Paul Meany, Roy Mitchell-Cardenás, Darren King, and Todd Gummerman – has recently released studio album number four, the follow-up to 2011’s Odd Soul.

Trying to pin down their sound in an effort to categorise it proved futile. It’s 80’s styling wrapped up in a contemporary sound. There’s glimpses of the Pet Shop Boys, and a smattering of the Jackson 5, sprinkled with the soundtrack to Miami Vice, and yet it’s none of these for more than a moment. The songs are sneakily listenable, and I’ve found myself thinking about a couple of the tracks long after the album ended. I struggled for some time to pick out stand-out tracks because just as I thought I’d identified my favourite I’d hear the next song and it reset the bar.

There’s so much to like about this album but I feel challenged expressing it simply. The pace of the album made me feel like I was floating on top of the ocean, riding the swells as they came. It’s consistent in its strength, yet delivers moments of great emotional power within that consistency.

Lyrically there’s some great stuff, in particular on “Composed” with “I have said to myself in a mirror’s company, who’s that panicked stranger on his knees? All I want is to reset how I breathe, and slow down the fear I bleed”.

Favourite track, at last listen, is “Safe If We Don’t Look Down”. It’s nice to have the luxury of choice this album affords.

Although I’m terribly late to the Mutemath party I’m won over. I want to hear more. Vitals will definitely be a regular companion as we see out the summer evenings on my deck among the trees.

Review Score: 8.9 out of 10 AU-APPROVED

Vitals is out now.