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Mates of State “Bring It Back” Grade: A Barsuk Records

Mates of State

“Bring It Back”

Grade: A

Barsuk Records


For some couples, having a baby might cause life to be turned down a notch.

However, Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel — a married couple who just had their first child, Magnolia — otherwise known as Mates of State and the sweetest thing to ever happen to indie-pop, have set aside postpartum depression for their best record yet.

The Mates “Bring it Back” after almost three years with their fourth effort. While I can’t say they’ve gotten it wrong in the past, they’ve never gotten it so right.

Call it chemistry, call it love, call it whatever you want, all I know is that MOS have something that pop music lacks.

As cheesy or silly as their songs may be, the fact that I know they’re singing to each other makes it real and inspires visions of what love would be like if everyone who was truly in love played in a band together.

As with the duo’s former releases, “Bring it Back” oozes with overwhelming joy. Gardner and Hammel create music that only a couple in love can.

At first listen, it might not make sense, but it meshes in a way that is flawless and almost feels like you’re eavesdropping on their conversations.

It’s not that the record is more serious, but there’s something there that wasn’t there before.

The album is drenched with layered vocals and a sound that we haven’t heard out of the Mates yet. Maybe they did mature a little. Gardner’s vocals are sexier at moments and intertwine with Hammel’s on the opening track, “Think Long.”

There isn’t a bad song on the record. Each one has its own sound.

Songs like “Punchline” and “For the Actor” are in your face with their signature sound, while “Nature and the Wreck” is a simple song featuring Gardner alone on vocals, playing a rich piano as she sings lyrics meant only for Hammel.

“What It Means” has Hammel taking the lead with the vocals and Gardner, horns and a piano haunting the sound behind him.

On the final track, “Running Out,” an almost seven-minute gem, Gardner professes she’s “tired of singing,” and each time she says it, I say a little prayer hoping it isn’t true.

But, if I’ve learned anything about the couple in my years of listening, it is that they really are up for “anywhere, anytime,” like their motto professes, even if it means bringing baby Magnolia along.

Who knows maybe Mates of State will become a family act?

No, that would be too much to envy.

— By Jess Peregoy, Staff Writer

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