I want to introduce you to your next favorite band: City Mouth. Running out of the gate with shimmering synths, infectious harmonies, and melancholy lyrics with a tint of hope, this Chicago-based band is on to something special on their latest LP that they have affectionately titled Coping Machine. Drawing comparisons to the synth-pop sensibilities of Motion City Soundtrack and clever songwriting of The Format, City Mouth has carefully crafted a collection of songs dealing with thematic elements such as preserving one’s mental health and staying true to yourself. The album was mixed by Marc McClusky (Weezer, Motion City Soundtrack), and his dedication to bringing out the best in the band comes shining out of the speakers from the very first listen.
Starting off the set with “Sinking,” a self-loathing anthem that has vocalist Matt Pow admitting that he “Thinks I’m becoming an asshole,” City Mouth wastes little time getting down to the business at hand. The first thing I noticed about the band was how effortlessly they float from these self-deprecating themes to silver linings of hope in the midst of a few bars of music.
Dancehall tracks such as “Sanity” rock with a bouncy swagger that is sure to bring a smile to even the biggest curmudgeon out there. Other songs, like the title track, start with some worrying dark tones only to quickly blast off with some shiny messages of persistence and hope.
“Drifting Blue” is sure to be a popular summer song that demands to play while watching the waves come crashing into the shore. City Mouth’s ability to keep things feeling light even when the lyrical material can feel substantial makes for an enjoyable listening experience.
My personal favorite from Coping Machine is the guitar-heavy “Parking Lot” that has a lot of similar riffs to bands like The Aces and The 1975. Credit guitarist Ryan Kress for making the song feel larger than life and for creating a perfect landscape for Pow to sing over. The religious imagery on the first verse of “For A Second” shows off the lyrical prowess of lead singer Matt Pow to connect his fans to his headspace as he sings, “They think I think I’m Jesus / But if I make a new religion, I’d just want to be the Pope / I want to be something that brings you hope.” His smart way of tying everything together in the song is very commendable.
Throughout the 36-minute record, the uplifting themes outweigh the self-doubt, which is a good thing. It leaves the listener with a sense of feeling like everything could turn out to be okay and feel the warmth of knowing there are others out there struggling with the same issues. City Mouth have shown plenty of promise on this album that comes at the perfect time as we turn the page from spring to summer in the months to come.