Say What You Mean
Psychedelic rock is so Seattle ‘68. Grunge is so Seattle ‘91. And rather sadly, for the misty city’s Maktub, sweet Seattle soul is so 2003. Those who enjoyed the raw energy, catchy hooks, and cohesion of their last outing, Khronos, are likely to be disappointed by the band’s most recent offering, Say What You Mean. It’s hard to deny that all five members of Maktub are skilled musicians, especially vocalist Reggie Watts, whose incredibly versatile baritone consistently shines. But unfortunately, the majority of arrangements on Say What You Mean — clearly an attempt towards a more straight-ahead rock sound — come off as thoughtless filler, and as a whole, the album falls flat. Cuts like ‘Daily Dosage’ are surely the worst of what Say What You Mean has to offer. Its jarring rhythms and weak hooks are a far cry from Khronos’ many successes (‘You Can’t Hide’ and ‘So Tired’). In addition, the powerful rock guitar riffs and aggressive drumming in ‘Blown Away’ and ‘Seeing Is Believing’ seem contrived and unnecessary, and don’t mesh well with other parts of the album, in particular the sugary sweetness of ‘Hunt You Down’ and the punchy bass of the title track. However, the song ‘20 Years’ gives the listener some hope that all is not completely lost (but close, very close). It’s here that the rhythm section backs off, allowing Watts’ voice to soar, for once sans the occasionally gratuitous signal processing evident on other cuts, while guitarist Thaddeus Turner churns out sounds that are equal parts innovative, emotional, and ear-pleasing.