So maybe I’m a bit behind the times when it comes to Average Mammal’s 2014 album “Life Under the Influence” but, as they always say, better late than never! Hailing from right here in Minnesota, I’m honestly not sure how they stayed under my radar for so long. Regardless, I’m thankful that we connected and as soon as I popped in this album, I knew it was going to be a long-lasting friendship.
Opening track “The Senses” pretty much sets the scene for the rest of the album in the best way possible. With far too elements thrown into the first song for me to list, the opener teases you with a little indie-pop, a little hard rock, a little pop-rock, and a whole lot of energy. With the first line of words, you may be fooled into thinking this is a bit of a Modest Mouse cover band but, by the end of the song, you start hearing this emo-pop mixture a la The Matches mixed with an almost Foo Fighters-esque power sound. Again, if you listen through “The Senses” and decide you can’t find anything in it that you like, well, your opinion is wrong because there is literally something in there for everyone.
“Disappear”, the second track on the album, brings a sense of heavy aggression to the album. Although clearly in your face and almost channeling early Brand New with the sensitive yet intense vocals, the song stays approachable and hummable. The intensity falls to the wayside as soon as the album jumped into the next track, “If This Is Love” which seems to replace that intensity with a happy go lucky sound complete with clapping. The juxtaposition of the two songs is seriously genius and keeps the album moving quicker than I would prefer. With clear nods to The Matches in “If This Is Love”, I couldn’t help but listen to this one a few times before moving on.
Typically when reviewing albums I’m able to pick out just a couple of songs to highlight but every single song on “Life Under The Influence” has something special that deserves to be pointed out. With influences that align with the bands that make up the soundtrack of my daily life along with elements that are so purely Average Mammals’, this album instantly replaced whatever was in my car. The album has moments that instantly get stuck in your head along with other moments that make you feel something you didn’t think some random band could ever make you feel.
“Too Fast Too Soon” is definitely the most ballad-like song on the album (other than the closing song but more on that later). The way it’s done is beyond professional. Whereas there’s this fun-loving energy throughout the rest of the album, “Too Fast Too Soon” shows this sensitive side to the band that you always knew was there but it just kind of lays it all out there for you. With haunting keys in the background and with vocals that go from soft and somber to an almost emotional yell that we have all done into our pillows at one point or another, this song is impossible to not connect with. It’s the perfect middle point for this album and, although one of the slower songs, is one of my favorite just due to the delicate nature of it.
The title track of the album is another one of my favorites. Maybe it’s because the vocals throughout the entire song scream The Matches (one of my favorite pop-punk bands that never got the recognition they deserved) or maybe it’s because the song literally makes you want to jump up and dance around. Much like the rest of the album, the lyrics are accessible and, although maybe a bit more angsty than I need in my life right now, they make sense and match the intensity of the music perfectly. “Life Under the Influence” is the perfect example of a song that, when you you hear it, you can literally see a band playing it on an imaginary stage in front of you. It just sets this band up for a hell of a live show that I am dying to see.
The album closes with this slow and calming sound that is “Late Night Conversations”. After being completely overwhelmed by the rest of the album and trying to catch everything I could, “Late Night Conversations” was the perfect ending. A little more quiet and laid back than the rest of the songs, it gives your brain a minute to figure out what all just happened. Although keeping the energy high, this song, like “Too Fast Too Soon”, shows a sensitive side to the band only, on “Late Night Conversations” there’s absolutely no angsty breakdowns or screams. It’s strictly this almost campfire feeling vibe that has you reaching for the closest hoodie and a cat to cuddle with (or a human if you so choose). With gang vocals that give you chills and lyrics to match, to say this song is the perfect closer for this album would be an understatement.
I continue to be amazed by all of the great albums I have been getting to review. Average Mammals is one of those groups that, I don’t know how I connected with them, but I’m beyond thankful to have done so. They became an instant favorite of mine after hearing this album.
My Favorite Track(s): “Life Under the Influence”
Chances Of Getting A Noise Complaint While Listening To In An Apartment: 6 out of 10
At Home Danceability: 7 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artemis laid on the counter right by my speaker while his tail moved to the beat. Autumn slept on my bed in the other room
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 9 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 4.8 out of 5
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