The indie rock trio Model Mutants members Christian Laursen (guitar/vocals), Steven Michaels (bass/vocals) and drummer Chris Mastrocola formed in NYC and recorded their self-titled debut Model Mutants there before relocating to Connecticut.
Model Mutants opens with the ambling rocker “Ladder to the Moon” which pairs loose tinny peels of guitar with stripped down drums and a steady bass thump. This steady bass thump becomes a much bigger presence on the next tune “This is Water.” The song takes a long time to build up and when it does the payoff doesn’t seem quite worth the wait. The cymbals tend to drown out Laursen’s vocals, which are monotone. This is fine for the slower bits, but if you’re gonna monotone your way through a jam session you better be Ian Curtis.
On the song “Mutants at Midnight” Laursen sings, “Sometimes science moves us at a desperate pace” which is also a good way to define the pacing of the song itself which as it gets going contains some nice ‘60s surf riffs, but the song never really goes anywhere and sounds more like a dress rehearsal than anything else.
Things begin to take a turn for the better on “Trippers and Askers” when the beat begins to pick up and things get more interesting. Here Model Mutants show off their talents by using minimalism to fill space. The buildup and resulting “balls out rock out” is what I had been waiting for since the beginning. They slow back down again on the ballad “Good Night, Dear Heart” a ‘50s styled pop rock love song which Laursen’s baritone is perfect for. Model Mutants closes with the mild rocker “God is a Waitress” on which Laursen eulogizes “Orders filled just like prayers.” The song is reminiscent of The Nationals’ earlier, looser material.
It is pretty evident that Model Mutants is a young band, or at least a band that has not played together for very long. Sometimes bands can get away with this but Model Mutants doesn’t seem to be one of those bands. Many of the songs on this record sound as though they could have been made up on the spot. It’s not a lack of musical talent by any means, as they have plenty of that, though the problem sometimes arises in the arrangements of the songs. There is a lack of a clear and defining sound. Not that Model Mutants should pigeonhole themselves, only that rather they should concentrate their efforts on building a solid sound base from which they can grow or in this case mutate from album to album.
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