Bringing It Back Old School Style
In a world of somber musicians tackling sobering subjects and the perfect chord to express their angst, Mates of State breaths easy with a refreshing hum that makes you forget your troubles. They have a minimal sound, coming mainly from Kori Gardner’s keyboard / organ and Jason Hammel’s drums. This is added with the couples’ blended vocals, which is arguably their greatest instrument. Their latest album, Bring It Back, takes you through a world of tunes that are so catchy, they already seem familiar. Mates takes a new spin on sounds that span generations of jolly music from 50s doo wap in “Like U Crazy” to the pop-punk sound of “Fraud in the 80s.” As the album continues, their attempt to stretch out the simplicity in songs can make them seem never ending, but their formula usually works. One tends to sing while the other chants in the background. They almost always have a type of ooohing, which adds a nice throwback to an older, innocently cheesy genre. And you can count on a specific anthem ending every song like, “I’ve been thinking it’s an afterthought / get into the car and you aim it at the sun,” in “Punchlines.”
Some exceptions are in Hammel’s “What It Means” and “Nature and the Wreck,” which exhibits an elegant bareness of Garner and her classic piano playing. By the last song, “Running Out,” Mates creates an excellent match to the slow mood with the progressive rock that had worked for their faster songs. As the duo claims, “I’m tired of Singing oooh,” you kind of don’t believe them and really hope they Bring It Back soon.