Released: August 18, 2009
Reviewed by Evelyn Miska
Armistice is Mutemath’s second full-length studio album and, according to lead singer Paul Meany, an effort to outdo their first. The New Orleans natives wrote roughly 16 songs while on tour with the idea that those tracks would become their sophomore release. However, the stress of touring and tension in the group almost lead to the demise of the band. The introduction of producer Dennis Herring helped bring some stability to the group and, based on his advice, those 16 songs were scrapped and the band began anew. The new songs and new direction would result in the ultimate release of Armistice in August 2009.
The album, for the most part, is a rather coherent and interesting mix of rock, dance and electronica. “The Nerve” may be a little heavy-handed in terms of its preachiness, but the song itself has an interesting sound and isn’t a bad way to lead into the rest of the album. This track, as with others on Armistice, allows snippets of a Southern feel to creep in, but don’t expect it to take over. “Backfire” is still in the dance/electronica realm with a good beat behind the vocals. It wouldn’t be hard to see this track doing pretty well in a dance club though the tempo might be just slightly too slow.
“No Response” is one of the best songs on the album with its slightly ethereal feel on the chorus. While still lighter than some of the moodier work by groups like Massive Attack, “No Response” is a more radio-friendly approach to that sort of genre. Similarly, “Pins and Needles” steps away from the more directly dance-oriented track. In fact, it is here that Mutemath stumbles slightly. While the song does provide a slight break in the overall flow of the album, the track sounds too forced and just doesn’t quite fit. Unfortunately, that starts a string of three songs that miss just enough to pull the album down a bit. “Electrify” manages to salvage things somewhat with a much higher-energy approach and good guitar riffs.
Armistice has a number of strong tracks and an interesting sound going for it. While things do get a little bogged down just prior to the end, most of the album has a good, energetic pace and just the right balance of dance and rock. Not bad for an album that almost caused the destruction of the band.