Mates of State – Re-Arrange Us

Is there such a thing as domestic stadium rock? This is it. Huge hooks looming over a slideshow of your recent trip to the East Indies.

See, he’s a fine-looking young man. Nice use of the ultra-cliched half dark face / half light face motif for the both of yas though! You make me sick!

Okay, let me deal with the album first: it’s pretty well totally different sounding. I don’t think they actually signed to a major label, but it has that “we just signed to a major label!” feel, like Regina Spektor on Begin To Hope. To wit, chick uses a piano instead of keyboards, there are eight million vocal overdubs all over the place, and there are goshdarned symphonies all over the songs. And is that a guitar I hear in “Jigsaw”? Blasphemy! But the good kind of blasphemy, like the time Muhammad saved all those Christians from their poisonous belief that Christ is the son of god.

Look, I have no idea. I’m weak and sad. Since this is a Mates of State album not titled “Bring It Back”, only the first half of the album is particularly good. “Get Better” is slow-building and affirming, “Now” is insistent and driven, “My Only Offer” is unconventional (hookwise) and conciliatory, and “The Re-Arranger” uses the orchestra to build towards a huge harmonious chorus in probably the best song they’ve written. They’re all catchy, and lovely, and filled with handclaps and things and appropriately hit piano and vocal notes.

Then “Jigsaw” starts with “you write the good songs, baby” and it’s all downhill. And by “downhill” I mostly mean that it’s a bunch of worse versions of the first four tracks that are still rather good, except for maybe “Help! Help!” Because that’s a stupid title for a song. Get it if you’re happy, or something.

7/10 

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