The Mighty Fine’s “In Revival” was initially released last year, but 2012 marks its debut on the vinyl format, allowing us to revisit one of the better ‘under-the-radar’ releases from the last twelve months. So ‘under the radar,’ in fact, that we missed it the first time around (though it did originally take the Cover Art of the Week and Cover Art of the Month titles upon initial release).
For those unfamiliar, San Luis Obispo’s The Mighty Fine play a sort of indie rock infused punk. The sound is musically not unlike scene heavyweights like The Gaslight Anthem in that whirling guitar leads provide swirling melodies over the power chord driven rhythm guitar. Principal vocalist Brook Thompson’s sound is interesting, and is immediately sets the band apart from others in the game. It’s gruff without being growly, baritone without being obnoxious, showing that you can aggressively attack each syllable without screaming (on one end of the spectrum) or being comically over-emotional (the other end).
The foursome of tracks that open “In Revival” find The Mighty Fine doing what they do best. The songs are uptempo with enough hum-able melodies and variances in tone and time signature to keep from sounding monotonous. “To Indiana” has one of the brighter, catchier choruses in recent memory (though trying to explain to coworkers why you are singing about coming to Indiana when you’ve never set foot in that state and have no intention to at any time ever makes for interesting conversation). “Flow” evokes the same spirit as “Sometimes A Wolf,” from last year’s highly regarded Banquets’ album “Top Button, Bottom Shelf.” Given that the latter is one of my favorite tracks of the last year, this is a very good thing.
“Tracks like “Inconvenience” and “Now You Know” are somewhat nondescript mid-tempo rock songs. They aren’t bad (in fact they are quite listenable), but there isn’t enough contained in them to set them apart from a lot of other younger bands. Luckily, “Paper Trails,” “Heroes On TV,” and “Catching Up To Tired” arrive before long and mark a solid return to form, matching the opening quartet note-for-note in catchiness and enjoyability. Album closer “Backwards Therapy” has good bones, but sounds like it was recorded and mixed at a different session. It would be nice to hear this one remixed and slightly reworked, as it could be the best song on a solid album.