Mates of State - Re-Arrange Us
Fans of Mates of State can be heard across the blogosphere griping about how Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel have turned away from their signature organ & drum-based sound from their early days. But it seems to me their latest album Re-Arrange Us is simply a natural maturation of a husband-wife duo that have been making music together for nearly a decade. You really can’t realistically expect a songwriting duo to continually crank out the same sounding stuff over and over again. Change is inevitable over time and so has the sound of Mates of State. And to my ears, it’s for the better. Essentially Gardner and Hammel have realized the limiting factor of cheesy keyboard sounds and the carnival-esque vibe.
So, their musical arrangements have become more conventional with piano, bass and drums at the core of each track. What hasn’t gone away thankfully are their sing-along melodies and tenacious hooks. The album, Re-Arrange Us, is full of them including their solid album opener “Get Better”, “Lullaby Haze” and what’s most likely their strongest tune to date, “The Re-Arranger”. The one thing that does weigh the album down a bit are the lightweight lyrics. The words seem to be secondary to the music. When you hear lots of “da-da-da-da-da” and “now, now, now. Ho! Ho! Ho!” sung over parts of choruses, it’s pretty telling. Even so, the album is very enjoyable and will probably end up being one of my favorites of the year.