Play Dead unveils Mutemath’s musical evolution

After five years in the making, Mutemath’s highly anticipated Play Dead finally arrived on Friday. Despite some lineup changes resulting in the departure of Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas and Darren King, two of the original band members, the Grammy-nominated band did not disappoint its fans with an album that perfectly showcases what Mutemath is all about.

Play Dead features a much more experimental electronic rock vibe than previous albums by Mutemath, but nonetheless radiates its signature sound. At a mere 51 minutes, the album features 10 tracks, including the singles “Hit Parade,” “Stroll On” and “War.” Mutemath opted for longer songs, often featuring instrumental breakdowns.

Play Dead comes just under two years after Mutemath’s previous album, Vitals, was released and reached No. 49 on the U.S. Billboard 200. This is the band’s sophomore record released with Wotjeck Records, a record label created and owned by Mutemath since 2015. Though released only recently, lead singer Paul Meany explained via Instagram that the album took five years to make and that he is grateful for everyone’s patience.

The album opens with “Hit Parade,” which was the first single released in June to promote Play Dead. While “Hit Parade” is a five-minute track, the listener never gets bored of the song. Despite starting slow, the song quickly hits the catchy chorus, repeating, “Tie yourself to me, Cavernous jewelry, I’m on your shoulder, Don’t leave me sober.” A relaxing, yet upbeat melody combined with synths and drums makes “Hit Parade” one of the best tracks on the album. The song finds a perfect balance of classic rock and more experimental electronic sounds.

Photo courtesy of Wotjeck Records

“Hit Parade” leads into “Pixie Oaks,” the second track of the album. In contrast to “Hit Parade,” “Pixie Oaks” starts immediately with a chirpy beat. Featuring a mid-song breakdown and catchy riffs throughout the song, “Pixie Oaks” definitely has the potential to be a hit.

The third track of the album “Stroll On” features a much more cheerful backtrack. Filled with catchy drum beats and a beautiful harp melody, the song creates a feeling of peace for the listener. With a funky breakdown toward the end of the song, “Stroll On” captures the sound of Mutemath.

The most recent single and the eighth album track “War” takes on a much more aggressive sound than previous songs. With a killer electric guitar carrying the song and some groovy breakdowns, “War” embodies more of Mutemath’s classic rock sound compared to a track like “Achilles Heel,” which features much more experimental sounds. The album closes with the six-minute long “Marching To The End,” which is filled with ballads and a soft melody. Mutemath had a decent mix of slower tracks like “Nuisance” and “Placed On Hold” and more energetic tracks like “Break The Fever” and “Everything’s New.”

After accompanying Twenty One Pilots on its Emotional Roadshow World Tour in the summer of 2016, Mutemath has gained a new audience and following. Combined with its quality album, the band should expect to have a successful touring season this fall. The band will embark on a 31-date U.S. tour starting in September to promote Play Dead. Mutemath will perform in Los Angeles on Oct. 13 at The Wiltern and in Santa Ana on Oct. 14 at The Observatory.

Although Mutemath released their previous album only two years ago, Play Dead is a great comeback album and should put Mutemath back on the radar for a while. Given its success on tour with Twenty One Pilots and prior achievements, Mutemath should expect to gain a lot of positive attention with Play Dead. The album perfectly encapsulates Mutemath’s bold and unique sound and strikes the perfect balance between classic alternative sound and groovy experimental sound. An album full of genuine and solid songs, instrumental breakdowns and catchy choruses, Mutemath has truly defined its sound through Play Dead.