FAVORITE INDIE POP: MUTEMATH - BREAK THE FEVER
The world is ready - and hungry - for Mutemath on “Break The Fever”!
New Orleans’ indie-synth-funk band Mutemath had reached kind of a lull in their career, with steadfast, loyal fans but breaking little ground or reaching new ears. It’s a fate that befalls many, if not most, great indie rock bands - perennially touring the same 500-seat venues until they can no longer hold a guitar or stand behind a drum machine. Things took a turn in 2016 when Twenty One Pilots, on their way to becoming the biggest band in the world, picked Mutemath to open for them on their Emotional Roadshow tour. Mutemath was one of TOP’s earliest influences, apparently, and they never forget their gratitude.
MUTEMATH - BREAK THE FEVER
Mutemath found themselves re-invigorated, after playing a series of sold-out arena shows to tens of thousands of new fans. Mutemath funneled their newfound vigour into the studio, returning to work on a brand new album, Play Dead - their seventh - which they’d been toiling over for five years.
You’d never know it, hearing “Break The Fever,” the last single to drop before Play Dead’s release. In this rare instance, a long delay may have actually worked in a pop musician’s career, as “Break The Fever” sounds fresh and relevant in a way that it likely wouldn’t have five years ago. For one, Paul Meany’s soul-disco-funk vocals are smooth and catchy, with just enough grit to keep things interesting. With this year’s Yacht Rock infatuation, ‘80s funk is entirely in. It’s perfect timing to re-appreciate Meany’s Jamiroquai-like ‘70s throwback aesthetic.
Mutemath have been slinging this style of electro-rock for 15 years, meaning they’ve got waay more tricks up their sleeves than a band just hitting Soundcloud. Nothing seems cut-and-pasted on “Break The Fever,” from the laser harp acid synth arpeggios, to the neon bassline, to the assymetrical drum machine during the chorus. While so many bands try and play synth-pop-rock entirely clean, Mutemath are right to throw in a bit of nastiness to keep things interesting. “Break The Fever” nearly breaks down into complete line noise, during the long, gauzy outro. Meany’s vocals sound like they’re coming through a wall of Cuisinarts, while a backwards bassline does its best Black Lodge routine.
One thing a lot of people forget, in their ‘80s worship, is we were watching and listening to all of that stuff on pretty sub-par equipment - crummy VHS tapes and cassettes taped over endlessly. The perfectly clean ‘80s revival always seems kind of like the Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing” video - too clean, too bright, and too self-content. So much of what the ‘80s amazing was dirty, weird and personal. It’s great to hear more stuff like this, especially from a band 15 years and seven albums deep.