reviewed by Chris Matei
Indie rock is about as amorphous a “genre” as we can dream up in the latter twenty-teens. I’ll spare you, readers, from a detailed charting of the map from nu-metal to luminous hand-clapping Appalachian alternative to the more electronically oriented influences of modern British and Australian festival bands on the radio rock charts. However, it’s almost always the case that the prevailing “indie sound” is always a-changin’, and songs that felt quirky and current a few months ago will sound overplayed, copied and tired by the time you hear them next.
That’s really a long way of saying that it’s a genuine pleasure to hear a band that doesn’t seem to care to sew itself tightly into the current “it” sound, and by extension, to hear Mood CTRL’s debut EP. Follow is a collection of songs that double-parks influences across some interesting lanes, notably West Coast guitar pop and the high-IQ funk rock of early Incubus records, combining super tight drums, smooth, melodic guitar phrasings, punchy Southern Californian syncopation and a dash of grit.
Textural variety abounds on this record, and the band showcases their ability to transition seamlessly between glassy rhythmic chime and rippling sweet soloing (as on the very “Aqueous Transmission”-vibing title track,) loping reggae-ish bounce (“City Streets,”), and groovy rock that unfolds into chorus sections which somehow feel light and agile despite having real weight and power behind them. (“Paper Weights.”)
“Everybody Wants a Piece” is a ballad that gets swallowed by jammy freak-outs, and the occasional bout of heavier instrumentation only gets out of hand on the album closer, “Worn Out”, which, to its detriment, loosens up significantly compared to its predecessors as it pushes markedly toward the “rock” side of the funk-rock gauge.
Mood CTRL have done solid work here, in the form of an EP that sounds like it won’t have become boring in a couple of months once the indie rock tides have shifted.
Top Tracks: “Paper Weights,” “City Streets”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)