Sweetalk – Mutiny
The five songs on Sweetalk’s second release make a definite impression. Mutiny contains enough musical firepower for a full length album and it shows a definite step forward over the band’s full length debut. Sweetalk’s songwriting skills are sharpened to a much finer edge and the band’s chemistry is more combustible than ever before. The key, however, is how they strike a balance between technique and attitude so perfect that one informs the other. Mutiny, as its title indicates, bristles with an aggressive posture most of the time, but the band switches gears without breaking a sweat and varies their musical surfaces enough to make this a diverse listening experience. The Midwestern United States has traditionally proven fertile ground for rock bands of every stripe and bands like Sweetalk show this is still the case. Singer/guitarist Jamie Koebe, drummer Brian Boelter, and Travis Grahn on bass bring the goods to anyone starving for rock and roll.
They have the necessary raucous spirit from the first note on. “Ghosts & Fleshwounds” hits with all percussion guns blazing. Boelter’s drumming has a rampaging quality, but his skill level keeps things between the lines and Grahn’s bass gives the song added weight. Koebe has outstanding talents with his guitar playing – he can veer from powerful riffing, jaggedly melodic lines, and high flown near-lyrical passages. The dissonant side of his playing emerges with the song “Anatomically Speaking” and it darkens the musical mood without ever becoming overwrought. Koebe’s vocals are quite suited to the rough guitar textures and enormous rhythm section presence. Their talent for manifesting a number of musical approaches while never losing their defining sound is the mark of rare talent – it shows artistic dexterity in a style where musicians often settle for the lowest common denominator and milk it for all its worth.
“Annie Maul” is one of the album’s most tightly focused tracks. The central guitar riff charges out of the speakers and leaves a mark deep in the listener’s brain, but Sweetalk changes things up a lot and never fails to show off different shades during the performance. The vocal is equally focused and makes great use of the lyric without ever being too hammy or overdoing things. The bass introduction on “Indecisions & Distractions” builds up impressive energy before it the band performance explodes around that rhythm section attack. There’s moments in this song where the band oddly sounds like a much heavier and musically intricate version of U2 – particularly Koebe’s vocal strongly reminiscent of Bono. There’s definitely a much more cinematic feel to this song than other tracks on Mutiny, but it doesn’t fit uneasily alongside those surrounding performances. The finale “Fractions & Nosebleeds” builds from a low-key guitar opening and moves with stately purpose until the song’s second half when the tempo picks up and the track comes to a rather chaotic, dramatic end. Sweetalk scores big with their second release, despite its status as an EP, and it sets the stage for an enormous sophomore full length that’s hopefully in the offing.
9 out of 10 stars