Thursday, September 4, 2008

ALBUM: My Official Summer Album of 2008

So now that summer is officially over (when I'm sitting in my Fall Semester classes, I consider summer to be effectively over), I feel comfortable reporting my official album for the summer. It's a hard call, because there were a few albums that I played pretty consistently over these last few months, but I think the title of "Official Summer Album of 2008" for me has to go to Mates of State's Re-Arrange Us.

When I initially saw the video for the album's first track, 'Get Better', last April, two thoughts crossed my mind: first, that this was something very different than anything the Mates had done before, and second, that this was something very very special. I pretty much played that song into the ground, almost tearing up just about every time the last round of the chorus breaks in - "everything's gonna get lighter/even if it never gets better!" - if I'm going to be totally honest, it still gets me almost every time.

That's why this has become one of my very favorite albums of the summer, probably even the year. Every song has that staying, affecting power - more than a typical indie-pop song should. Not that these songs don't induce toe-tapping and spontaneous car-dancing - this wouldn't be a summer album if they didn't. I'm just saying that there's more here. The instrumentation is significantly different than any earlier Mates of State efforts - straying pretty far from the organ-and-drums-only formula they've built their sound on in the past, and the song structures are a little different too, with more sing-along-able verses and choruses than we've ever heard from these lovebird-rockers. The result is a new sound wrapped around the same two familiar voices, crooning and shouting and harmonizing back and forth, heart-felt through and through.

'Get Better' may still be my favorite song on here, but it's got some fierce competition. 'My Only Offer', with its piano driven melody and tag-team vocals, is the perfect song to drive to in the fading sunlight of a full summers day, and 'Jigsaw', with its toe-tapping rhythm and impromptu guitar action (compliments Chris Walla of Death Cab), is sheer pop perfection from beginning to surprise-reprisal ending. Other favorites include 'The Re-Arranger', 'Help Help', 'Great Dane', and well, just about every song actually. Every single one has a depth that transcends the simple 'pop' moniker, delivered with care for every line, every note. Nothing sounds frivolous, nothing is out of place. That's what makes this such a beautiful record, the sincerity and honest emotion in every song. I just really love this album.

from the album Re-Arrange Us (Amazon/iTunes)

from the album Re-Arrange Us (Amazon/iTunes)

PS: If you buy the hard-copy of the album, the cd's front cover is actually made of several different sheets so you can actually "Re-arrange" them any way you please! This may or may not have played a part in it being named my Official Summer Album.


the matt and dan show said...

Mates of state do a great cover of California by Phantom Planet! You should add that to your summer tunes...

all the best,

Matt and Dan

billy said...

damn glad to see someone else giving Mates of State some love. absolutely one of the best albums of this year {and i second the post above - the mates of state cover of phantom planet is tops. i posted it}