Sophomore albums are a tricky thing. A band often runs the risk of either sounding too similar or veering too far from its original sound. On Connect the Dots, MisterWives manage to masterfully push their sound, while staying true to their core.
The New York group released debut album, Our Own House, in 2015. MisterWives quickly went from playing small solo shows to opening for Panic at the Disco on a nationwide tour thanks to the success of single “Reflections.”
Connect the Dots is an indie-dance celebration, the lyrics of which cover all emotions, including anger, sadness and love. The band references influences like No Doubt and ABBA, its sound is more like an interesting blend of Paramore and Regina Spektor.
Opener “Machine” sets the tone for the album. Edgier than their debut, MisterWives’ first single verges on tribal with a darker, bass-heavy sound. “Maybe I’m a dying breed/ But I believe in individuality,” sings Mandy Lee, who occasionally drops an interesting twang into her voice. The video for “Machine” features a mix of Mad Max and X-Men, post-apocalyptic mutants fighting for their freedom in the desert. (It’s frankly surprising we haven’t seen this mashup as part of a feature film.)
Resistance is one of many themes on the album and is apparent in other songs like “Revolution,” while “Oh Love” digs right into anger. “Excuse my pessimistic tone, I normally can do better/ But the battle to keep my light burning seems harder than ever,” Lee delivers in her spoken-word bridge.
Love is another popular topic for MisterWives. “Only Human” and “Coloring Outside the Lines” deal with the emotions of falling for someone, while “My Brother” takes on the heartache of watching a loved one go through pain.
While the album is an easy listen, I can’t help but wonder if my headphones and speakers did the songs justice. I suspect the only thing that could make Connect the Dots better is seeing it performed live on stage. The Bay Area will get that opportunity in October, when the band stops by The Fox Theater with Smallpools and Vinyl Theater.