MEM – Archaea

MEM - Archaea

MEM - Archaea

If you dislike Coldplay, then you’ll probably hate MEM. Yes, the former band eventually won respect in some indie-elite circles, but a lot of the same complaints heaped on Chris Martin and company would apply here, too. The chief concern is that MEM’s Archaea rides innovative rock formulas towards adult-contemporary land–that templated, manicured suburb many rock fans avoid.

To be fair, some of these songs are good. Mixing rock instrumentation with heavy digital apparatus, this talented five-piece from NYC are good musicians, and some of their mixes and arrangements gel nicely. For example, the album’s best track, “I Just Can’t”, achieves a crisp and complete sound in which almost every embellishment works and the vocal harmonies flow. But, when misused, such arrangements and high gloss production can also spell doom, and most of Archaea is proof.

“My Own Demons” starts with a nice guitar figure, and builds with the guidance of a popping snare. But the music is self-incriminating, and the more it tries to say, the worse it sounds. Long before the song ends, the edge has worn off and the amassing evidence soon exposes the whole thing as drivel thrown together by over-reaching musicians and an under-qualified producer. Then the band inexplicably tries its hand at R&B on “Leave It Up to Me”. Subjecting the vocal to auto-tune, this track abandons all context in failed hopes of crossing genres. This musical tragedy is matched only by “Dip Me In”. Here, the mature sound that kept Archaea going commits suicide by digital tween pop.

Archaea chronicles the life being orchestrated right out of MEM. The sparks of talent and creativity that jump here and there are stifled by slick and indulgent packaging. The first three tracks–all having a measure of commercial appeal–prove to be the best of the worst. This band is probably, hopefully better than this. But I don’t care to find out.

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