Primarily written and recorded at singer/keyboardist's Paul Meany's New Orleans, Louisiana home, MUTEMATH's new album Odd Soul is the band's third studio release and their first self-produced effort. After the departure of longtime guitarist Greg Hill, Meany, bassist Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas and drummer Darren King were staring at a crossroad as they pondered how to move forward. "As we began to work on songs, we quickly realized that having fewer people in the creative process was better. Roy's a great guitar player, and we all started feeding off of this new inspiration for the kind of record we could make. all we needed was to be left alone until we got there."
There's a spontaneity and spark to all of the songs on Odd Soul that's unmistakable, something Meany credits to the fact of starting the recording process right after working on their 2010 DVD Armistice Live. "We really wanted to just cut to the chase on this album and compose music that would work for us on stage. We were craving more high-spirited music for this album so any song idea that came close to depressing got nixed," he continues. "We're not good at being dark so we wanted to see how far we could go into creating something glaringly bright."
That uplifting nature permeates all thirteen tracks on Odd Soul, however each song has its own distinct musical feel. From the bombastic Zeppelin-esque groove of "Allies" to the syncopated soul of "Blood Pressure" and electro-ambience of the ballad "In No Time," Odd Soul showcases how much the band has grown over the past few years, most notably when it comes to Meany's vocals. "I've certainly never pushed my voice as hard as I did on this record," he adds, "We all pushed ourselves to the brink of our ability on this record. we recorded it as if this would be the last record we'd ever make."
Despite the fact that many of the songs on Odd Soul-such as the garage-inflected title track-will inevitably make bodies move, the album simultaneously addresses some deeper themes hovering around all of the head nodding. "The lyrical idea of this record is loosely based on our upbringing in what I guess you could call eccentric Christianity," Meany explains, adding that this is also the first album where Meany and King fully collaborated on lyrics. "We wanted to address a lot of the stories we've gathered over the years in what is an admittedly odd culture," he continues. "And not only that, it's our culture, and we know it well. I think writing this record certainly gave us a new appreciation for it, and it gave us a chance to be much more up front about ourselves."
"I learned through these years to treasure my hyper-literal, overly-ambitious, loose wire adolescent adventures in attempting to out-Jesus even Jesus," King adds. "We wanted to celebrate, up front and center, what we used to think was best kept in the shadows, our weird religious roots. The challenge we took on with this record was to become more lyrically honest, vulnerable, and specific than before, with music that was as exhilarating as some of the most charged up shows we had done up to that point. I am proud to have been raised in an environment that valued intensity, that felt it was important to have something to get all worked up over, that allowed music to be spontaneous and loud and innocent (aka youthful). So this record is the start of us telling the stories that surrounded all of that."
Artistically, Mutemath has made a rock album that is unmistakably and inherently their own. Rooted in New Orleans rhythm and blues, fusing elements from psychedelia to traditional gospel to modern electronica, Odd Soul is constructed to live up to its title. "I think the title describes this record in every context." Meany summarizes, "It's who we are, where we've been, and what we incidentally sound like when set to music."