Mates Of State, originally from Kansas but relocated to San Francisco, are the
duo of drummer Jason Hammel and keyboardist Kori Gardner.
My Solo Project (Omnibus, 2000) offered gentle pop for boy/girl harmonies
that leveraged the romantic atmospheres crafted by vintage keyboards
(Throw Down, Nice Things That Look Good).
Subsequent albums Our Constant Concern (Polyvinyl, 2002) and
Team Boo (Polyvinyl, 2003) were less engaging because of less catchy
material and a tendency to repeat the same pattern and the same theme
(a public display of affection).
All Day (Polyvinyl, 2004) is a four-song EP.
The married couple (now also parents) perfected their pop craft on
Bring It Back (Barsuk, 2006), particularly the bouncy
Think Long and Beautiful Dreamer, but adult balladry was
beginning to creep from under the teenage fun
(the lengthy closer, Running Out).
A more aggressive and slick sound lent their
poppy songs for vocals and keyboards a second life.
For the Actor was the single.
There was little innovation on Rearrange Us (2008), other than more
horns and more strings. Several songs
are graceful and one or two are catchy (You Are Free).
The songwriting is as fluid as it has ever been. But the whole is just the
sum of the parts: classy routine.
All their albums should have been EPs, and none more so than
Mountaintops (2011), that includes two of their melodic gems
(Palomino, and Maracas),
the touching melodrama Unless I'm Led and the lively Motown rave-up
Total Serendipity amid an impressive number of faceless, bland,
repetitive, trivial songs.
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