Death By Stereoâ€™s opening â€œMiami Virtueâ€ may well be the catchiest song Umphreyâ€™s McGee has written. Laser beam synths create hooks, marking an instant high point on an album that struggles with its flow.
But donâ€™t pity the Chicago sextet. These players raised the bar extraordinarily high with the prog-rock steamroller Mantis, which felt like the ultimate realization of their powers; it is a robust, complex, andÂ satisfying exploration of the myriad of influences that the band encompasses. In contrast, Death By Stereo feels like a breath of relief, an easy exhale that is satisfying, but uneven. Strong offerings like the aforementioned â€œMiami Virtue,â€ â€œSearch 4,â€ and â€œWellwishers,â€ are tempered by the likes of the oddly shaped â€œDomino Theory,â€ and the understated funk of both â€œBooth Loveâ€ and â€œDeeper.â€ While the latter three tracks are solid compositions, they are out of place, affecting the feng shui of Death By Stereo.
When speaking of Umphreyâ€™s McGee, one thing is abundantly clear: these guys are fearlessly reinventing their sound with every opportunity, whether in the live setting or in the studio. Death By Stereo isnâ€™t the bandâ€™s best, but it is surely an adventure.
Death By Stereo is out now on ATO Records.