Wednesday, September 02, 2009

"I Am One of Them" - Review of Mute Math, Armistice

The much anticipated follow-up to Mute Math’s first self-titled CD has finally dropped after more than three years of the band working on it. Did the time put in pay off? Yes. While there are no songs that pack quite the same punch of Chaos and Typical from their last album, Armistice shows definite creative growth in a positive direction for this New Orleans indie rock quartet. While their last album had more of an overt influence from The Police, this album in some respects reminds me more of U2 (more in spirit rather than trying to be U2 clones). This is perhaps due to the enlisting of Dennis Harris as producer who’s production style really brings out the rhythm section (Roy Mitchell-Cardinas and Darren King) in a way that creates space and energy for Paul Meany’s vocals and Greg Hill’s guitar work. The result is a very cohesive batch of songs which, while still capturing the indie-energy of this band, tie it all together in a bit more of an accessible way than their previous release.

Unlike Mute Math’s previous release, Armistice offers many more questions than answers. Lyrics such as “anymore, I don’t know who to fight anymore, I don’t know what is right anymore” from the song Clipping, and “And if it’s all black and white then tell me what is wrong and what is right, I don’t suppose that anybody knows” from No Response reveal Mute Math’s movement from a world of black and white absolutes to a place where beliefs and people don’t quite so easily fit into the boxes we make for them.

Perhaps on of the most insightful lyrics on the album in from the song Pins and Needles,
Sometimes I get tired of pins and needles,
Facades are a fire on the skin.
And I'm growing fond of broken people,
As I see that I am one of them.

As one who has followed members of this band for many years I cannot help but see these lyrics in light of the journey they’ve been on from leading worship at a local church to the Christian rock band Earthsuit to their current incarnation as an indie-rock band. Perhaps I am finding myself identifying with this point in their journey myself because in many ways I have been in the same place.

How we would love to have all of the answers and have people classified in tidy little containers, to be so sure that we’re the good guys and their the bad guys but as one journeys one can’t help but see that many of the distinctions that we make are very artificial. Truth is we are all broken people, and coming to terms with this is not a casting off faith but rather a deepening of faith—a realizing of faith and love in the deepest places of the heart.

As I said earlier, in some ways this album reminds me of U2 but this is not simply in the musical approach of the band or in how the album was produced but also in the way that this band of Christians is beginning to wrestle with faith as they find their horizon expanding. Armistice is one of many albums coming out from Christians in the last few years that I would say offers a soundtrack to the changing landscape of faith in the western world, a world where suddenly questions have loomed larger than answers. This wrestling with faith may very well seem scary to many but it is a very necessary part of the journey to authentic spirituality—wrestling always is!


Laila said...

You make some really interesting points. I was not in love with this album on first listen, but it grew on me after a couple more plays.

I was wondering what you thought of the track "Electrify."

Pi Man said...

I don't know Mute Math at all, but I do know that your statement of "Truth is we are all broken people, and coming to terms with this is not a casting off faith but rather a deepening of faith—a realizing of faith and love in the deepest places of the heart" stikes a chord in all of us who have received, and continue to receive, the grace of almighty God. Sweet! TA