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Spotlight EP
Artist: Mute Math 
Label: Teleprompt / Warner Brothers 
Time: 4 tracks / 15:55

Mute Math: the masters of the one-word title. “Reset,” “Chaos,” “Control,” “Typical,” and now – “Spotlight” and “Clockwork.” Sure, it’s just a taste – but the big news is that, after what seems like an incredibly long wait (in anticipation of the band’s follow-up to 2006’s self-titled full-length debut), hungry Mute Math fans get to devour four new tracks on Spotlight, an EP/Maxi-single available for download from and a variety of other sources. 

Technically, there are four tracks on the EP, but the excitement is really all about “Spotlight” and “Clockwork,” a pair of typically (!) intriguing Mute Math songs featuring the band’s uniquely identifiable sound and Paul Meany’s instantly-engaging vocals.
The EP is rounded out by “Earlylight,” an instrumental variation of the title-track, and “Spotlight (Son Lux Remix)”, a further permutation of the hit single as remixed by the eclectic artist referenced in parentheses. 

“Spotlight,” first heard on the soundtrack album for the film, Twilight, is an infectious, fast paced indie-pop tune featuring delightful Beatle-esque handclaps and a vocal lick that will stick in your head long after the song is over. Snake-like base lines weave through the three minute and twenty seconds, propelled by explosive drumming and set in a bed of sound which is a mix of guitar, barely-there keyboards and ethereal samples – bringing it all together is Meany’s voice, easily one of the best currently heard in rock and roll. Lyrically, “Spotlight” is as full of teenage angst as any song on the soundtrack of a movie like _Twiligh_t ought to be: “Because everyone would rather watch you fall, and we are all (all in trouble), just take the fall / You’re one of us – the spotlight is on.” Like most Mute Math lyrics, the words work on multiple levels, speaking to the outsider in all of us and perhaps telling the band’s own David and Goliath story at the same time since, with hordes of fans and record company executives anticipating the group’s next step, the spotlight is on, indeed.

“Clockwork” is an edgier song, starting out in a more subdued mode, with just guitar and a rapid pattern on the hi-hats – Meany comes in singing, “Time is a thief with a loaded gun / the sky runs by while the days are gone / the night falls prey to our love of sun / all like clockwork, they won’t stop – they won’t stop,” and neither does this song. Gradually building until the chorus explodes with sound, the song is an observation of the relentlessness of time and the uselessness of trying to outrun it. “Today we need to make the most of love / tomorrow we don’t have a choice / all we ever get control of is now” are lyrics that show an insight and poetic quality that meet the high standard of the debut album. Both songs feature Meany’s delectable vocal phrasing, Darren King’s frenetic drumming, Roy Mitchell-Cardenas’ funky and intelligent choices on bass, and Greg Hill’s textured and sometimes haunting guitar sounds. Naturally, Paul Meany’s keyboard work is threaded throughout the music along with various occasionally other-worldly samples. 

“Earlylight” is a slightly slower instrumental version of the title track: lyric-less, the track still retains the vocal lick and creates more aural space for tantalizing bits of keyboard and other treats. Occasionally reminiscent of the band’s “Reset,” from the debut CD, there’s still enough “Spotlight” left in “Earlylight” to tempt the susceptible fan-boy into a karaoke sing-along (not that there’s anything wrong with that….).

“Spotlight (Son Lux Remix)” features mostly the vocal tracks and some percussion from the band recording set into a new musical environment by Sun Lux. The remix uses percussive orchestra-hits and a different harmonic bed under the vocal melody, which is mixed with a dose of distortion through most of the song, making the stark, up-front distortion-free moment at the bridge all the more dramatic.

So, this is what we have to tide us over ‘till the new project is released (yes, Virginia – there is a sophomore Mute Math CD coming) and it’s a promising hint of what we can expect. The EP can be ordered through various means, but downloading it from the band’s website gets you an exclusive video clip, higher quality MP3s (320 kbps), and the chance to order a vinyl version. Highly recommended for those who are suffering Mute Math withdrawal symptoms.

Bert Saraco 

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