The first thing anyone will tell you about Mates of State is that the duo are married. Organist Kori Gardner and drummer Jason Hammel tied the knot just before releasing their second album, Our Constant Concern. Much is made of this fact in the music press because stories, like pop songs, need hooks. Sift through the lyrics of the Mates' latest release and it's likely that you can find mysterious references to the intricacies of being, shall we say, in a relationship. "I know you're not fooling around/but I know/you will" pulls the bonds of matrimony a little tighter. But those expecting the musical equivalent of some hip newlyweds' Weblog will be frustrated by lines like, "As the top of the tower, it feigns and it swells/Give up the back and expect all that's coming." What is that -- psychedelia?
The genius of the Mates is the emotional urgency the vocalists bring to lyrics that verge on nonsense (and become less intelligible as they sing different lines simultaneously). Psychologists will inform you that since you can't tell what Kori and Jason are really singing about, they seem to be voicing your own heartfelt desires with more joy than you've dared to reserve for yourself. Jason's drums are all big rock, and Kori's Yamaha veers from the perversion of roller-rink innocence to the time-proven decadence of a big fuzzy wall of sound. A unique, thrilling band. Singles welcome.