Posted by: outroversion | August 26, 2011

Mates of State- Mountaintops [review]

Mates of StateMountaintops

The catchy male and female dualling melodies of past Mates of State offerings are what has kept them in my regular rotation over the past decade, nothing more. When I got the chance to check out the Kansas natives’ latest album I was hoping for a couple of bop-a-long tracks like “Goods (all in your head)” or “Get Better“. In reality I received an album that is likely to be my album of the year (after People’s Key of course…).

That Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel are Husband and Wife might put people off, worried that it might be a little sugary twee. In reality the fact that they are married is an afterthought to the music and lyricism, which go beyond the boundaries of mere relationships.

Mountaintops opens with typical “no way is that just two people” casual fan settler Palimino which embodies everything that makes their music great; upbeat music, luxurious melodies and, hidden behind those are some poignant and affirming lyrics.

After that it is as pop as it gets. At first upon hearing “Maracas” I thought ok this is a bit too sweet, but it is undeniably groovy and for better or worse it stays with you for days. This is the only real track like that on the album and I think its inclusion does make this an archetypal album of theirs covering all edges of the spectrum. The darker moments are of course there too, though perhaps not as dark as they may have been known to be in the past, not quite Blonde Redhead but moments like “unless I’m led” do make sure the atmosphere doesn’t get too heady.

After 14 years and 6 albums, their time must have arrived. Surely now American indie royalty, they deserve to be up there with the New Pornographers and Stars. Truth is there’s at least 4 brilliant tracks on what is only a 10 song album. Total Serendipity is simply a M.O.S masterpiece and with “At least I have you” they’re really going to make their live setlists the blockbusters they’ve always threatened to be.

As usual drums and keys take turns to carry the rhythm and vocal duties aren’t at all dependent on Kori. Each half of the partnership taking their own load until it winds down with the brass licked “Mistakes“, the closest thing to a duet on the album and it really brings it home. This album is just beautiful.

~ “I need you”. ~


At least I have you (live)

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