The Mowgli’s | Sound The Drum | Rating: 8/11 |
Let’s be honest; so much upbeat and full throttle chipperness is not for everyone. The first half of this album will probably get on someone’s nerve as the album seems front-loaded with every song they may have recorded while on a trippy combo caffeine and sugar high, thereby proving the validity of the infamous Twinkie Defense. It can be difficult to maintain the air achieved on lift off with “Hi Hey There Hello” and “San Francisco” with its ridiculous earworm of a chorus that’s all but guaranteed placement in a summertime commercial further embedding itself into your consciousness: “I’ve been in love with love / And the idea of something / Binding us together/ You know that love is strong enough.” Yes, you’ll probably constantly repeat it against your will, but it’s one of those things that you’ll just have to suck up. You like it. You really like it.
Even though not one of the seven (yeah, count ’em, seven) band members in the southern California outfit The Mowgli’s actually bears the surname of Mowgli, they boast a familial feel of a tribe connected. If not by blood then by common beliefs, by childhood, by social circles, by time, and surely by music hence their headlong dive into the art of the musical ‘collective.’ Many hands, hearts, instruments, and voices were simultaneously raised to make such a joyfully conscious noise. Throw in some folky spirit and there you have Sound The Drum; fair companion to Grouplove, yet (oddly) a much less annoying counterweight to Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.
Michael Vincze, Colin Louis Dieden, Katie Jayne Earl, Matthew Di Panni, Josh Hogan, Dave Appelbaum and Spencer Trent do their damnedest to flood the listener with the preciousness of unity and open-faced optimism, which they succeed at in spades. Vocals are layered upon layers; group verses and choruses carry on throughout sometimes in a barrage of shout-singing sometimes loftily floating. Gold and the aura of an old time spiritual are achieved on “Carry Your Will” from the echoing acoustic guitar and prominent lead vocal to the graduated raise of their peace-loving, mass voices and thrust of the militant drum beat. This is message music in richly textured form.
Yes, The Mowgli’s shamelessly embrace multiple aspects of pop-laden folk, country, simple rock and roll, even a touch of a gin joint stroll in “Waiting For the Dawn.” What? Yes. Possibly the most inaccurately titled track is “Slowly, Slowly” because it’s not, and when the voices – individually and collectively – yell, “It’s only love and it’s only fair that you find your peace” you’re inclined to believe them because it feels so damned good. But “See I’m Alive” steps up and proves that this ensemble can dig a little deeper than simple sunshine and sing-a-longs. Vocal delivery, folks, sometimes it makes all the difference in the world.
Solidly produced and 14 tracks deep, there’s nothing complicated aboutSound The Drum; it’s the sound of heartful music made to the beat of seven unified drummers who have one song to sing and are singing it to, for, and with you. It’s also the sound that the Mowgli’s have arrived.