There are times when all you can say about Mates of State is, “Aww.” They’re on stage shooting each other adoring glances or you’re listening to the first half of Team Boo in your room, and you just think about how cute keyboardist/vocalist Kori Gardner and her drummer/singer husband Jason Hammel are. Aww, the harmonies are so spot-on. Aww, they’re married and have a newborn and you want to be a part of their family.
But with All Day, they’ve made a recording you can finally say more to. The love is still very much in the air, the sound is still incredible for a two-piece, the harmonies are still clutch. In fact, nothing about the band’s sound has changed since other recent outings. It’s just that a four-song EP is the perfect dose in which to listen to this band. Such an orchestration-driven act grows weary over the course of twelve songs, but the four here can really be explored and enjoyed individually.
Now, you can say things like, “This hook in ‘Goods’ is the best thing I’ve heard since the Cars broke up.” Or, “That they can cover Ziggy-era Bowie without an ounce of irony and make it sound really beautiful should be headline news.” Okay, you may not say these things, but you’ll think them. And you may realize at this point that Mates of State is a real band.
In whatever century we’re in, it can be incredibly difficult to distinguish art from gimmick. If someone covers Central Park in steel and vinyl, it’s art. But if someone runs the New York Marathon covered in sliced meat, it’s a gimmick? And then a so-called “band” that consists of a married couple on organ and drums? What to make of it? The Mates of State, which could have gone either way early in their career, have proven themselves to be a serious band. But don’t worry, they’re still so cute.