Mates Of State
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For a few sublime moments, the room and its occupants, on stage and off it, melt away into a spill of vibrant colours, individual shades mixing and blending like before-eyes clouds during an acid trip down Haight-Ashbury way in the late ‘60s. The feeling’s wonderful: the shoulders rise and the back straightens, the neck allows its top-mounted skull to fall slightly backwards and mouth permits a silent sigh of immeasurable satisfaction to filter forth through the fog. This is Mates Of State’s ‘Running Out’, the duo’s pre-encore set closer; it prompts an impossible-to-dislodge (with student bar-priced lager) lump to form in the throat, and a single tear to work its way to the absolute edge of a lower eyelid. It hangs there for the whole song, uncertain of when to fall to the floor.
Kori and Jason aren’t musical rocket scientists; their sweet and slightly lo-fi, superbly affecting indie-pop doesn’t flick the switches of Wire-subscribing sorts. Their infectious melodies and twin vocals have been well influenced by artists past and present – however unique the band may feel they are in today’s below-the-surface scene (interview), their music bears the hallmarks of a good few forefathers. The execution of this assimilation of influences, though, is perfect: stage left as we look on, Kori joins us in head-tipping expressions of overpowering joyousness. She pulls her lips away from the microphone and allows her voice to absolutely soar – never is this more appreciated than on the aforementioned offering, just one highlight of a sparkling set that sees Mates Of State pose everyone in attendance a question: if pop music can be this wonderful, why is so much ‘mainstream’ material so lacking in substance?
The double-header of ‘Ha Ha’ and recent single ‘Fraud In The ‘80s’ (“This one is about you guys,” announces Kori) sparks a spread of fires under the feet of the front few rows – now dancing in earnest, the hardcore, sing-along pockets of the decent (yet far from sold-out) crowd clap and whoop their approval come the latter song’s conclusion with great gusto. This attendee cranes his neck for a better view of the magic so clearly happening on stage: with no more than a swift glance, the merest flash of eye contact, the married couple can change the direction of a song effortlessly. Thus, we have a probably-not-impromptu partial rendition of Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ comprising the middle section of the band’s own (next single) ‘Like U Crazy’; as requests are shouted with feverish enthusiasm, the pair deliver a quite possibly spontaneous cover of David Bowie’s ‘Starman’. They brilliantly manage to pull it off in a manner that has the listener forgetting the original recording entirely.
‘Fluke’ is another fan favourite, but although the old-schoolers are rewarded with a selection of cuts from Mates Of State’s back catalogue, the newer songs from this year’s Bring It Back are equally appreciated; ‘Think Long’, said album’s opener, is one fresh effort that’s sure to be loved the length of the band’s future career. Endearingly approachable despite the stage/crowd divide, Mates Of State’s live set is an example of how accessible pop music need not be air-headed. Call them cute, twee, whatever; all adjectives can be rejected in favour of just one._ Great_.
So, in summary for the short-of-timers: Mates Of State are the greatest forget-everything-else natural high that popular music can provide. May their Technicolor mists continue to cloud away the troubles of audiences for many a year to come.
Click here to watch the interstellar zeppelin-starring video for ‘Like U Crazy’
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