I The Mighty

Connector

Written by: TL on 10/06/2015 12:45:26

San Francisco rockers I The Mighty had a strong beginning when they appeared in 2012 with the "Karma Never Sleeps" EP, especially on the back of the excellent single "Cutting Room Floor". Signing to the usually solid Equal Visions Records, the band followed up in 2013 with "Satori", keeping their momentum rolling, and now, a timely two years later, we have them back again with a sophomore album named "Connector".

Stylistically, I The Mighty is the quintessential modern rock band. You can clearly hear that the group wants to both retain their edge and be commercially relevant at the same time, making sure to have instrumental arrangements that are elaborate enough to interest critical listeners, as well as choruses that are catchy enough to take root even in casual fans. You get your punchy, harder rocking passages mixed in with funky and pop-punk-ish ones, while frontman Brent Walsh - who is clearly gifted both as singer and guitarist - delivers a versatile performance as both singer and lyricist, sneering, crooning and reaching for falsetto while sounding confident and capable at all times.

So far so good, yet the band has had a clear issue on each release, and it only continues to grow increasingly apparent here on "Connector". Simply put, they are great at composing intricate and atmosphere-filled verses, but when it becomes time for choruses, what they come up with is almost invariably more obvious and less spectacular than what the build-up made you hope for. This pattern of promise-then-disappoint-slightly is established right from the start, as the intro "An Epilogue As A Prologue" sets a ceremonious, atmospheric tone, promising epic things, only to give way for "Lady Of Death", a decent song in its own right, and certainly a deceptively catchy one, yet it sounds like something that might as well have been on the previous album as on this one. Single choice "The Lying Eyes Of Miss Erray" - such wordplay, wow - gets a really promising mood going as the verse creeps ahead with occasional flashes of groovy guitar, but the change of pace that takes the chorus racing ahead like a Pierce The Veil track doesn't fit at all, even if it is catchy in an isolated sense. It sits there like a good part from a different song, between an otherwise cool opening and a booming bridge riff that sounds like it draws some awesome inspiration from a Jimmy Eat World record.

This dynamic is pretty much symptomatic of the songs overall on "Connector". All of them have promising parts combined with ones that feel a bit underwhelming, yet overall things are consistently functional enough to be recognisable, just inches short of impressive or memorable. The ballad "Slow Dancing Forever", which dreams about dying in a plane crash to get closer to a loved one whose funeral the narrator is flying to, comes pretty close in a morbid way, and "Friends" stands out as well, though again it is primarily via the verse (and a guest appearance from Max Bemis of course).

One track which is likely to be overlooked is "The Hound And The Fox", which is one of the faster and harder tracks on offer, and which revisits some of the paranoia against the system that Walsh has also previously shown on a song like "Cutting Room Floor". It is also a good example of Walsh seeming like a well-meaning lyricist, who writes a clever phrase at one moment yet sounds like someone who needs to get a grip in the next. See for instance the cringe-worthy "(No) Faith In Fate" which ends with him wailing "MAYBE I'M JUST MEANT TO BE ALONE" with a helping of self-pity beyond what anyone should be able to stomach.

Overall, it's good to hear I The Mighty stay productive, and do so with a good helping of songs that are consistently interesting to listen to on a basic level, but clearly there's a number of things to be tinkered with in the finish. The occasional muffled backing screams are lame. You can't cater to fans who like screaming in music by hiding it in the background. Similarly the "hey! hey!" shouts are a good example of how bands should never put pointless things on their record, just because they may have been shouting them out live (Unless it is "blergh!". Everyone likes a good "blergh!") Our conclusion is then, that I The Mighty should continue to deservedly draw fans of modern alternative rock to their following, particularly the more forgiving ones, while the critical listeners start to get a little impatient from waiting for the band to really step up and deliver a more uncompromising record to match their flashes of potential.

7

Download: The Hound And The Fox, The Lying Eyes Of Miss Erray, Slow Dancing Forever, Friends
For The Fans Of: Hands Like Houses, Icarus The Owl, Pierce The Veil, Conditions
Listen: facebook.com/ithemighty

Release date 02.06.2015
Equal Vision Records

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