Tracklist1. Brink of Disaster
2. Crazy 8s
3. Sometimes I Can't Make It Alone
4. Just Let Go
5. On Top
7. Sic Semper Tyrannis
8. Release Me
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Mae's previous album The Everglow is a pretty hard act to follow. Imagine going on stage after Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis made their famous public reconciliation at Jerry's Labor Day telethon. It's a slot that would probably result in a few boos and wide gaps filled with the stereotypical "cricket" noise that denotes a bored audience. The situation concerning Mae's major label debut isn't nearly as dramatic but there is a little validity in the comparison. The Everglow is probably one of the wussiest albums ever recorded in the history of music, but it is an album that succeeded by bringing out the "inner child" in the listener, reminiscent of times that were more laid back and simple. To some, Mae signing to Capitol Records and getting their music worked over by renowned hitmaker Howard Benson was a blessing, because on their new album Singularity they traded in the naive, Disney-esque shantys of their past for a more confident, polished radio rock sound. Singularity has a few moments worth noting, but unfortunately those moments are way too few and it is with great conviction that I send out a formal request for Ken Andrews to come back into the picture and work with this band again.
Singularity is a project that simply feels unfinished. Half of this album is filled with the infectious melodies and upbeat songwriting that Mae have built their fan base on, and the other half is a collection of boring, quirky rock songs that make Jane Austen's work look like a Vegas bachelor party. What’s even more frustrating is that many of the tracks that deviate from Mae's trademark sound show a slight influence from the aforementioned Ken Andrews and the fact that they are written so poorly is such a flagrant waste of what I'm sure was a large recording budget. The really bad songs on this record are downright hokey. The "all hands on deck we're going down" chorus in "Sic Sempter Tyrannis" sounds like something The Village People probably discarded for their hit "In the Navy" and the song itself sounds like something one would find in a chick flick music montage. "Release Me" could have been a great slow dance tune, but it has a bridge that builds up into a completely flaccid finish, not even remotely yielding the triumphant conclusion that it sets the listener up for. "Waiting" also has a similar problem, with great melodies strewn throughout the song, but with a weak chorus in the middle that absolutely kills the mood. Even the album closer "Reflections" is a dud, sludging on at a snail's pace for close to six minutes, yielding absolutely no highs or lows worth mentioning.
The bright parts of Singularity don't really show much evolution and in fact, they show borderline regression. Nonetheless though, they are still fun and drastically outshine the unsatisfying parts of the record. "Brink Of Disaster" starts the record off, dominated by some blazing synth and a very non-conventional sounding chorus. "Crazy 8's" is another solid tune with an upbeat, catchy chorus and it shares the title with "Just Let Go" as my two favorite songs on the album. "On Top" and "Home" are also great as they successfully bring somber piano melodies to the forefront, giving Singularity some much needed personality. The glossed over production work of Howard Benson gives Singularity a very different feel from the previous Ken Andrews recording and while it doesn't necessarily suck the life out of the songs, it doesn't really do a whole lot to compliment them either. It's a largely sterile production job and while listening to it all I could think about were the sterile, white, hospital-like surroundings prevalent throughout 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Even the good stuff on Singularity can't save it from being worthy of the dung heap as a whole, especially when their previous work was so refreshing. Who knows if the jump from an indie to a major affected the songwriting process, but it is quite apparent that whatever magic and innovation was coming from the minds of these five individuals has long since flown the coop, at least for now.