18/06/2015 – Mates of State-Staring Contest (2015)

If American pop duo’s new EP is a snapshot of things to come, a major overhaul is in order

 

 

Mates of State have been around for a while.. It’s been eighteen years since Jason Hammel and Kori Gardner ‘hooked up’ and started making music. While you might not know their name, you might know their music through its use in American TV. Shows like The O.C., Chuck, One Tree Hill, Ugly Betty, 90210 and Gossip Girl have all used their music to either emphasie a break up, an emotional out pouring or just a slow motion walk away.

 

 

Now they’ve returned after a four year break with a new EP, horrifically titled, You’re Going To Make It. As the title suggests these are songs full of empowerment and positive energy. This collection of six songs are as helpful as motivational posters that hang in bad offices. Imagine a picture of Sunrise and the phrase “Seize the day, make it yours” written underneath it. If Mates of State have a good manager/PR team, You’re Going To Make It will be projected from the picture through a hidden speaker while you stare at that picture and think “What went wrong with my life that I’m now here?”

 

 

The EP opens with Staring Contest. This is the strongest track on the EP, and through its synths and catch melody it gets the EP off in fine fashion. This are looking up for this pop duo. Is the title a reference to Hammel and Gardner’s game of staring into each-others eye’s and the first to blink/look away doesn’t love the other as much as the winner? Luckily we’ll never know. After this the EP takes a nose dive. The music sounds dated and safe. At times it feel like MoS are set in their ways and going through the motions.

 

 

In a previous life I used to work for a major label. Every quarter they’d be a presentation where they show us new videos and ‘demos’ from the new signings, so we’d know what was going on. It was a great day, as you knew by the end you’d be really excited about something, and then there was the social after. However there was always that point when a track was played that no one really connected with. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. That was probably down to it not being finished, or mixed correctly. Sometimes when you heard the final version months later it was great, other times the track and artist were never heard from again. This is the feeling I get when I listen to this EP. While there isn’t really anything to massively dislike about it, the playing is good and the compositions are fine, there isn’t really much to engage with as you’ve heard it all before, and sadly, better. You’re Going To Make It sounds like half realised ideas with studio tricks to cover the cracks. If this EP is anything to go by these mates are in a proper state and need to rethink everything!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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