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Bare Mutants – The Affliction (In the Red)

30 July 2013

There is something instantly familiar and appealing about Chicago’s brightest new band, Bare Mutants. Maybe its because you’ve heard it before but you really haven’t. Led by Jered Gummere of *The Ponys” fame, this ensemble is the prom band you’ve always wanted. They play songs that are catchy and slowdanceable, yet fuzzy and loud. Gummere’s voice is often drenched in reverb and doesn’t overextend. It is calming and carries the melodic weight of these simple songs.

Throughout The Affliction, the band’s debut LP, an organ, drums, and bass lay down a foundation with arrangements that aren’t overly complicated but well-layered. The album’s lack of busyness is its inherent charm. From the beginning with “Without You” (the A-side of last year’s best 7”), the band serves up garage pop straight out of the mid-to-late sixties. “Crying With Bob” would have fit right into the soundscape out of time in the show Twin Peaks. The kind of song that hipsters should fall in love while listening to. Really, that is not a insult. The lyrical content mixed with the prettiness of the track might contain just the right amount of irony to make that happen.

The songs are all textured and lovely. Some start sweet and end a tad rambunctiously (“Devotion”) The B-side from last year, “Inside My Head” also gets a re-recording that has a few more layers added on for a more raucous effect. “C—t” is certainly much sweeter sounding than the name would imply. Going back to In the Red Records, The Affliction is even more satisfying as a whole than The Ponys’ excellent records for the label. It is so consistently great that it’s difficult to pick out a favorite out of the bunch. At least half of the tracks are in play.

While generally consisting of two alternating chords and a thumping rhythm section, Bare Mutants have made a very impressive debut album that is heavy and still heavy on melody. It’s an absolute joy.