The new Mates of State album is exactly what you'd expect it to be—sugar-high indie pop powered by Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel's constant harmonies and all-earworms-all-the-time melodies. Much like the New Pornographers (though a little more emo), they make their craft seem so easy it might be mistaken for uninspired and boring.
It's most definitely not boring—every song, just like on their other records, begs to be sung along or danced to. Nevertheless I stress "just like on their other records." Again like the New Pornos (and a ton of other bands, to be fair), the question for you is whether or not you need more of the same in your life. Some do, some don't.
Based on only a few listens so far, I can tell what kind of record Mountaintops will be for me: I'll rate nearly every song four stars (read: no classics, no duds), will listen to it for a week or two, and then it will bleed into the fabric of my iTunes library for the rest of my life. Its songs will pop up on shuffle in all the appropriate smart playlists, or when I'm in the mood I'll put all my Mates of State albums on random. In any case Mountaintops will soon cease to function as a discrete collection of ten songs.
Don't get me wrong: that's not a bad fate for an album. There's lots of outcomes for albums' long-term consumption in the iTunes age. I could delete them all together (hello/goodbye Gayngs and Mi Ami), I could keep them in my sprawling library but never find my way back to them (long time no see Wolf Parade and Wye Oak), or I could cling to the record as most artists hope their works are clung to (it's like you never left, Andrew Bird and Radio Dept.). Mountaintops, and the Mates of State in general, falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, and so do a lot of albums by consistently solid and pleasurable bands (please make room, Pernice Brothers, Kings of Convenience, and Beach House).
- Mates of State: Changes