Since emerging in 2006, US band Mindset X has never been slow in enticing ears with hook laden and inventively melodic songs, creating anthems which grip the body as firmly as the imagination. Equally though the past years and releases have seen the New Hampshire trio explore a more progressively seeded enterprise as their sound and songwriting has evolved and matured. It has been a perpetual time of potent songs and attention grabbing releases luring frequent acclaim, praise forcibly matched by their live presence and hunger. Now the Manchester band has set down another benchmark with new album Oceans, a fascinating, imagination fuelled concept album unveiling band’s most expansive and emotionally intimate sound yet.
The eleven track encounter is an absorbing proposition which around body manipulating escapades, immerses ears and thoughts in a soundscape of emotional turbulence and discovery wrapped in atmospheric and progressive rock suggestiveness. Each track has its own tale, its own unique narrative of sound and word, uniting for one gripping incitement. As most releases, certain moments have bigger success with personal tastes than others but at no point does Oceans lose its hold on the adventurer sharing its journey or leave a quickly triggered appetite feeling unfulfilled.
Recorded with multiple Grammy Award winner Jay Frigoletto and featuring guest appearances from Paul Bielatowicz and Simon Fitzpatrick of The Carl Palmer Band and John Wesley of Porcupine Tree, Oceans opens with the brief Zero 220. The track sets the album’s scene, the charm and solitude of coastal waves lapping the senses as a gentle melody courts the air. The imagination is on alert and quickly fed with the hard rock grooves and bluesy spicing of I Imagine straight after. Typical Mindset X in that it is a swiftly engaging stroll of inventive hooks wrapped in a melodic wine that intoxicates as it colours the growing context of the song. The distinctive voice of Steven Haidaichuk is as equally expressive as his guitar enterprise whilst the swiping beats of drummer Adam Cote provide a textured grounding to match the throaty growl of Paul Davidson’s bass.
It is an accomplished and highly enjoyable full start to the album but soon outshone by the band’s new single Shockwave. Striding in on a rhythmic magnetism cast by Cote, the track soon entangles ears in spicy sonic scythes and a moody bassline, all as contagious as they are suggestive. A fresh snarl lines the tones of Haidaichuk as he proceeds to prowl the persuasive web cast by the predator like encounter. Two thirds in and an apocalyptic aftermath sizzles, providing more food for thought with the lyrical side, before things are back in a virulent swing hard to resist let alone ignore.
From one peak to another and the glorious incitement of Flatline where again bass and drums spring a highly compelling and provocative trap that thoughts grip greedily, before a gentle caress of guitar hugs emotive vocals. The hypnotic lure of the track increases as crescendos erupt and caustically sizzle on the senses, the tribalistic rhythms continuing to provoke and bewitch as the heart of the protagonist theming Oceans melancholically flows out.
An electronic ambience makes a thicker presence in Island next, the keys of Davidson shadowing the melodic and emotion drenched croon of the classic rock spiced song. Though it does not quite light the same spark inside as its predecessor, the track is a ripe bloom of resourceful invention and creative colour which only feeds ears and mind with lingering enjoyment. Being placed within the might of the previous song and The Bends which follows does it no favours though; the new track a spellbinding wash of sinister atmospherics and sonic intrigue around more personal and intimate introspection from the album’s character voiced impressively by Haidaichuk. Around him, keys and guitar create a cloud of temptation, a climate stalked by the moody lure of the bass and graced by subsequent celestial harmonies.
The infectious rock ‘n’ roll of You and Me takes over next, its easily accessible yet precisely sculpted swagger a quick and unshakeable persuasion leading to a brewing addiction whilst the initial exotically sultry ambience of War and Crime lights a fresh fire in the passions with its smouldering seduction before breeding a glorious infestation of grooves and spiky hooks for gnarly rock ‘n’ roll drawing on angst and social inspirations for its virulent tempting.
The flowing elegance and melodic prowess of Castaway is another which does not tickle personal tastes as firmly but still leaves ears full of potent temptation. For others it will undoubtedly be one of the highlights and easy to see why with its emotional charm and melodic beauty, but for us The Great Divide Part I quickly steals attention from it with its instrumental theatre whilst setting up the imagination for the triumph of The Great Divide Part II. The closing song on Oceans, it is also the most inventive and experimental, Mindset X spinning a tapestry of numerous styles and flavours into an emprise of craft and heart which just gets stronger and more delicious, not forgetting irresistible, with each and every listen. The pinnacle of a consistently thrilling album, it is also quite possibly the best any song written by the band, ingrained favourites aside, a slice of invention as emotionally provocative as it is contagious. At times it is raw rock ‘n’ roll, in other moments a cinematic adventure, and persistently a progressive lined exploration to enthral and incite.
Mindset X has had a potent and increasingly growing sound for a fair few years now but they have tapped into something deeper and fresher within their imagination with Oceans, with us the listener reaping the rewards.
Oceans is out now through most online stores with the single Shockwave available as a free download @ http://mindsetx.bandcamp.com/track/shockwave
http://www.mindsetx.com http://www.twitter.com/mindsetxband https://www.facebook.com/mindsetx
Pete RingMaster 06/10/2015
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