Mates of State - You’re Going to Make it EP

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:7 Release Date:2015-06-17

I actually had to double-check and make sure this was really Mates of State, because it sounds nothing like the band I remember from the mid-2000s. Gone is the desperation and pinball machine goofiness of that younger group. In its place is a serious, mature piece of work that sounds a lot more like mainstream pop than what they've done before.

Gone also for the most part are the conflicting vocals of Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel overlapping and playing against each other, mostly replaced by a lot of excellent harmonizing in which the duo - gasp - sing the same lyrics. Still, the passion and joy is still clearly present.

The EP starts out incredibly well, showcasing the group's more electronic sound with the poppy joy of 'Staring Contest'. Gardner takes the lead in the verses, and Hammel joins in during the amazing chorus, which features lots of powerful pauses and acapella work from both. The pair do slip into their counterpoint style towards the end, but it's all to the good. This is a song it will be hard to get tired of hearing.

It's a bit unfortunate that the first track is the best, because it means the rest of the songs are a little disappointing. 'Beautiful Kids' is a slow, sparse piece, driven mostly by Hammel's pounding drumwork, with a lot of little gaps filled in with a variety of keyboard styles and sound effects.

Things pick up again with 'I Want to Run', with Gardner doing her best Rilo Kiley impersonation before Hammel joins in for more strong harmonizing. This song is probably the purest pop song on the EP, ready for radio play or landing on the soundtrack of half-a-dozen different movies and TV shows.

'Gonna Get It' is a more melancholy semi-ballad, but it still finds the opportunity to pulse with energy. The final track, 'Sides of Boxes', is more of a full on ballad, with slow beats and delicate piano work, but it's marred by an annoying vibrato distortion effect put on the vocals, which just distracts away from the song's good qualities.

The EP is tiny and gone in a flash, but long-time fans will be pleased to hear the band still crafting gems after all these years, and newcomers should be impressed as well. This isn't a perfect set by any means, but the high points are way up there.

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