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Album review: I the Mighty’s ‘Where the Mind Wants to Go / Where You Let It Go’

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I the Mighty album art

I the Mighty album art

I the Mighty album art

Without a doubt, this the most internally ambitious album I the Mighty has ever made

Fasten your seatbelt and get some thought snacks ready because you’re in for a musical journey.

San Francisco’s jaw-dropping, genre-defining rock quartet I the Mighty has refined their high-octane instrumentation and storyteller lyricism into their most provocative and mature sound yet with their third full-length LP, “Where the Mind Wants to Go / Where You Let It Go.”

The range of emotions and experiences in“WYMWTG / WYLIG” (LP3) are a tiny totality. Hints of adolescent recklessness reminiscent of The Neighbourhood dot the album with a vigor that makes the first listen fun. The pain of separation, the chagrin of self-fault and the triumph of momentary self-actualization turn the fun into a wealth of emotional clarity that hooks the listener.

LP3 takes the listener through a plethora of emotions, told by taking a look into vocalist Brent Walsh’s own sentiments. The extra dash of Walsh’s form of mystical philosophy adds a whole new layer to the album.

Not everything in the narrative is pretty, but by risking invalidation by showing the ugly parts and dark thoughts of his mind’s journey, Walsh’s lyrics achieve towering levels of resonance. By overcoming the ugly and placing it into music, I the Mighty imbues passionate purpose into every song, with open invitations to explore. It feels like the band is presenting their conquered demons to push out an “emotional vaccine” to a slew of deeply relatable issues.

I the Mighty has made it clear they’ve kept true to the sound they’ve grown within LP3. There are explosive, high-tempo joyrides with all the instrumental tenacity of “Satori.” The vibrant, otherworldly production and occasional pop feel presented in “Connector” comes back in powerhouse form. On top of the fully nestled foundation I the Mighty has cultivated, LP3 takes the listener on a mental journey that previous albums haven’t dared to reach.

Vocalist Brent Walsh has displayed legendary talent that has earned him a spot among the best vocalists of modern post and progressive rock. Walsh’s ability to connect a gorgeous tone to enthralling imagery and storyteller lyrics complete a show-stopping vocal centerpiece and breathe additional life into already dazzling pieces. One of the most powerful tools in Walsh’s arsenal to reach debilitating points of emotional clarity is his haunting falsetto. Walsh brings a masterful delicacy to sky-high tones in “Escapism” and “Symphony of Skin” that achieve an eye-rolling emotional payoff.

The deeper meanings of “Where The Mind Wants to Go / Where You Let It Go” demand an instrumentation with full-throttle participation to create immensely specific imagery. Bassist Chris Hinckley brings an aggressive, balanced groove that nimbly pushes the beat forward to blistering heights of hype. “Grooves in Symphony of Skin,” “Silver Tongues” and “Pet Names” come out swinging with a showcase of bass with low-end spice.

Guitarist Ian Pedigo’s chops flutter with lasting dulce in “Degenerates,” “Sleepwalker” and “Symphony of Skin,” and heat up on the turn of a dime. Classic guitar-growls in the intro to “Where the Mind Wants to Go” and a satisfying solo at the end of “Silver Tongues” are but a few of the ear-to-ear grin guitar moments of the album.

Percussionist Blake Dahlinger toes a line between fervent drum licks and carefully-placed pulses in alternation with carefully-placed silences. The instrumentation of “Where the Mind Wants to Go / Where You Let It Go” changes its shape to make its mark from almost every angle.

One of my favorite songs on LP3 has to be “111 Winchester,” one of the album’s most picturesque narratives. It starts with an iconic groove and all the fun of a reckless weekend. From there, it takes a chilling twist into a horror plot worthy of a deep read. The intersection in the chorus between Pedino’s licks and Walsh’s vocals is chilling, and it is arguably one of the most memorable parts of LP3.

For half a decade’s worth of albums, I the Mighty’s emphasis on bringing their albums to a poignant terminus has set an ambitious standard for album craft in rock. All I can say about the end song, “Where It Wants to Go,” is that it goes to celestial lengths to build to universal heights and wrap the album up with a bow. It’ll make you stop and take a breath.

Without a doubt, this is the most internally ambitious album I the Mighty has ever made. Bringing breadcrumbs that stay true to every aspect of the band’s development is no easy feat. Tying that in with the most daunting emotional challenge the band has tackled is even more challenging. LP3 does a fantastic job of achieving this, but there are parts that I end up missing. I would have loved to hear a few more tenacious guitar parts in the album, and some songs hit a listener at different speeds. There’s a big difference in the payoff between “Silver Tongues” and “The Sound of Breathing,” but that’s not necessarily a fault to the album. Overall, it’s fantastic.

Walsh echoes a line at the start of the first track that sits heavy and satisfying: “Right now I feel like I’m right where I should be.” After spending a good while learning the curves of LP3, I’ve learned to resonate with the level of contentment on I the Mighty’s newest creation. If an album has been able to change the way I think of life, I believe it has reached the threshold of a truly fantastic album. “Where the Mind Wants to Go / Where You Let It Go” achieves this milestone of meaning and more, turning a fun and enjoyable album into a powerful emotional journey.  

Email Fitzgerald at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @DrMessBDSD.

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Album review: I the Mighty’s ‘Where the Mind Wants to Go / Where You Let It Go’