Progressive rock, for many people, conjures up images of dreary 12-minute introductions on pretentious concept albums that your bearded friend who drinks imported Pabst Blue Ribbon pretends to understand. If this is how you feel about the genre, then California’s I The Mighty are certainly an interesting prospect.
Having made their start as an acoustic duo back in 2007, their career has now spanned ten years, and they’ve toured with a veritable who’s who of the rock world, from Architects to Enter Shikari. Blending prog with a multitude of other influences, these guys breathe new life into their genre, and on album number four, ‘Where The Mind Wants To Go / Where You Let It Go’, they do so with unparalleled aplomb – and the results are dazzling.
Euphoric, sanguine opener ‘Degenerates’ serves as a glorious introduction. “I am not a perfect man, I fuck up often,” declares vocalist Brent Walsh, with the kind of disarming vigour that’ll make even the most reluctant listener sit up and take notice. The dynamic melody, led by a guitar riff from Ian Pedigo that feels reminiscent of their acoustic roots, ebbs and flows effortlessly, and the lyrics explore a gut-wrenchingly relatable narrative of inner turmoil and existential doubt, before culminating in joyous self-actualisation.
Things take a dramatically different turn on ‘Pet Names’, bringing the kind of poppy rhythms and scathing lyrics (“Used to call me baby / Now you never call me back”) that would seem better suited on a Backstreet Boys album if it wasn’t being done so excellently here. The thumping, indie-style grooves of ‘Chaos In Motion’ wouldn’t sound out of place on mainstream radio either.
Another highlight is the arresting ‘Sleepwalker’, whose nostalgic emo-tinged sound would make Taking Back Sunday proud, and the soaring crescendo of the chorus just begs to be screamed back by an arena crowd. This album feels to be bursting at the seams with single-worthy tracks, and so many innovative ideas are being thrown out on the metaphorical table that it’s practically creaking under the weight.
Raw, emotive lyrics are at the heart of this record, drawing on themes of self doubt and troubled relationships, as is customary, but the sheer, brutal honesty means that they avoid sounding cliché. Those who haven’t heard the band since 2013’s ‘Satori’ may notice Walsh‘s lack of frenzied screams here; this is all expansive cleans and airy, hair-raising falsetto, but frankly, anything else would feel like overkill.
The show-stopping songcraft and impeccable instrumentation present on ‘Where The Mind Wants To Go / Where You Let It Go’ means that this could well be a turning point for I The Mighty, and possibly even the album of their career. “I think I’ve found my place,” Walsh sings on the opening track, and after delivering a record as stunning as this, it’s hard not to agree with him.
Written by Lottie Cook (@pixelottie)