Mate's of State's unique, often complex, and always catchy pop gems defy genre boundaries. This husband/wife duo has released three previous full-lengths as well as numerous singles and EPs. Though a duo, they never fail to generate an abundance of melody and harmony via monster, bass-heavy organ, creative drumming, and alternately lushly layered and playfully dueling vocals. Bring It Back is Mates Of State at their complex yet lighthearted best: impeccably layered music that rewards attention, analysis, and repeated listens, but that's also instantly enchanting, drawing you in at once with hook upon incredible hook. BArsuk. 2006.
There are songs designed for listening, for dancing, and for singing in the shower--Bring It Back
hits all the bases. For their Barsuk Records debut, husband and wife duo Kori (vocals, organ) and Jason (vocals, drums) kick up more of an exuberant ruckus than ever before. They may be a twosome, but over a dozen musicians guest on their fuller-sounding fourth album, including infant daughter Magnolia (kazoo and "singing," i.e. cooing). Nicknamed "Bubs," she's also name-checked on "Like You Crazy" ("Bubs noticing bees in the air"). While the Gardner-Hammels aren't exactly competing with the sprawling Polyphonic Spree for "big band" supremacy, they do employ a choir on "Running Out," while additional instruments include bass ("Beautiful Dreamer"), trumpet ("For the Actor"), guitar ("Punchlines"), and viola ("Nature and the Wreck"). The centerpiece of their high-spirited sound, however, remains their irresistible hooks and exquisite harmonies, put to best effect on the stuttering "Fraud in the '80s" and bouncy "Beautiful Dreamer." Sometimes Kori takes the lead ("Running Out"), sometimes Jason ("What It Means"), but their voices are so tuned into each other that it's hard to pick a favorite (unlike most dual-vocalist bands where one inevitably outshines the other). Like the Beach Boys and the Turtles at their most euphoric, Bring It Back
bursts with all the joy and vigor listeners have come to expect--and more of it. --Kathleen C. Fennessy