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Mates Of State: Pleading The Fifth

By the time a pop-rock band makes it to its fifth album, it's often either a hint of greater things to come (Help! for The Beatles, Document for R.E.M.) or a sign of winding down (Pressure Chief for Cake, Stoned & Dethroned for The Jesus and Mary Chain). But the fifth release from married duo Mates of State, Re-Arrange Us, is aptly named: It's not a radical departure nor a predictable bore, but a spunky career remix. The only difference is that the typically sharp, edgy pop is a little sweeter — after all, the couple did just welcome their second child.

In "Now," the pair ditches its familiar electric organ for a softer blend of piano and synthesizer before jumping feet-first into a clash of childhood and maturity. What could be a gleeful, infantile chorus ("Now now now now now now!") is undercut by an all-too-adult existentialist lament: "I've been waiting for a sign / to tell me where I belong."

"Now" goes a little softer on the staccato than Mates of State might have a few albums ago, but that somehow makes the song even more poignant. If its fifth album indicates the direction Mates of State is headed, it still has a lot of stories left to tell before it's done.

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This story originally ran on May 29, 2008.

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Afton Woodward
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