A Synthetic Wonderland
Play Dead is the recent full-length album from alternative rock band MUTEMATH. Previously under Warner Brothers Studios from 2006-2011, this is the band’s second full-length album under Wojtek Records and fifth studio album overall. Formed in 2002 in New Orleans, the band has a history of featuring sounds of soul, alternative, pop and classic rock into their songs. In this album, the band leans closer to ‘80s synth-pop and strays a little further from the ‘60s and ‘70s.
The album starts out with “Hit Parade,” a single that the band released in June. The track starts simple and further builds into the chorus, rich with bass, synth and vocal harmonies. The vocals range from falsetto to a classic rock ‘n roll belt at times. The next track, “Pixie Oaks” is heavy on the drums and features a stream of fanciful “la la las” at the end of the song, which is a perfect segway into the next whimsical track. “Stroll On,” another single from the album, is filled to the brim with synth and could be classified as soft, psychedelic rock. This track is very playful, and a stream of twinkling and flashes can be heard throughout the chorus. The last 30 seconds are filled with a fun assortment of musical alien noises.
The album finally builds up to “Break The Fever,” which is arguably the most fun track on the album, is reminiscent of ‘80s pop dance hits but with elements of modern remixing at the end. “Nuisance” is one of the slower, more melancholy songs. Echoing lines such as “I won’t trouble you anymore” and “I’ll count every second until we meet again,” this track showcases a raw side of the group until it quietly fades to nothing. “Place On Hold” features a strong electric guitar which shines through the drumming, more than the other songs on the album. However, listeners may find this track to be forgettable considering it is followed by “Everything’s New,” a heavily synthesized yet beautiful track. The song ends with over a minute of soft synthesized music without any vocals before fading.
Listeners are then hit with the beginning of “War,” the third single off the album. In this track, MUTEMATH brings it back to organic rock ‘n roll, with the synth aiding in the rock sound rather than pulling the sound towards pop. “Achilles Heel” is a stand-out track on the album and the epitome of MUTEMATH’s sound — a blend of synthpop and alternative rock. The drum-heavy track tactfully uses autotune to support the quintessential sound of the band. The 10th and final song is “Marching To The End,” a soft yet triumphant finale.
Play Dead highlights the versatility of MUTEMATH through waves of psychedelic and alternative rock to synthetic pop. The album will keep listeners on their toes, eager to see what is to come in the next song. Certain tracks may also bring listeners to their feet, eager to dance along.