Mint Condition - Music @ the Speed of Life

Mint Condition
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When most people think about elements of the universe, the typical choices are fire, earth and water, but another one that impacts us all just as powerfully is time. A universal equalizer that is no respecter of sex or status, its elusiveness as the years tick by has  become even more pronounced in today’s digital-media-fueled society, a theme reverberating throughout the latest Mint Condition CD, Music @The Speed Of Life.

When most people think about elements of the universe, the typical choices are fire, earth and water, but another one that impacts us all just as powerfully is time. A universal equalizer that is no respecter of sex or status, its elusiveness as the years tick by has  become even more pronounced in today’s digital-media-fueled society, a theme reverberating throughout the latest Mint Condition CD, Music @The Speed Of Life.

After accomplishing twenty years as a self-contained unit (minus Keri Lewis’ departure), gaining broader recognition as the house-band on TV One’s Way Black When series and earning their first-ever Grammy nomination earlier this year, the Minnesota-based quintet capitalizes on that gift of momentum by infusing the tracks with a focused sense of finesse, plugging 80s style elements (Bobby Ross Avila’s cameos on the ‘talk-box’ and the trademark synth-soaked ‘Minneapolis Sound’) into mesmerizingly modern narratives about real-time emotions and events. “In The Moment” is an infectious, rhythm-heavy rock-out detailing  twists and turns of a friendship where “we knew the cost could possibly be high” when a romance developed. Another energetic up-tempo, “Blessed,” describes the world’s frenetic pace and how love is the compass keeping it all on track: “So easy for me to forget, how I keep it all together, keep it all together/When there’s so much going on, in the world, I just got to remember….so blessed/blessed to have you right here by my side, next to me when life cuts like a knife…”

The band’s discernibly streamlined approach doesn’t mean that Speed….omits sincerity or the Quiet Storm grooves that they’ve been revered for penning over the years: quickies are out and foundations built on forever are in, reinforced by the buoyant  “Believe In Us” and the sweetly swaying “Completely.” Best of all is “What I Gotta Do,” a slow-burner that easily ranks as one of the best in their arsenal. It is a ballad with Isley-esque guitar fringes and rich harmonies that fuel an impassioned plea for togetherness: “I pull out the stops, when it comes to you, anything you want I’ll do…. your options, I know you got a few, yeah, but I’m hope that I’m the one you choose.”  

No matter what message Mint Condition conveyed in their lyrics,….Life’s songs are delivered with urgency and enthusiasm: “Girl Of My Life,” a wistful yearning about finding a soul-mate, is edged with the turntabling talents of DJ Jazzy Jeff, and the inevitable pace of progress is chronicled in the bittersweet “SixFortyNine/Changes,” driven home with the clever rhyming cadence of Brother Ali. What keeps the collection from getting too saccharine are fiery tracks like “Be Where You Are,” “Never Hurt Again” and the straight-forward send-off “Nothin,’” a mid-tempo adieu that’s as cutting as it is catchy: “You lied to me, and you were my girl/Because you lied to me, I want you out of my world/What the hell you gonna do, the truth has been heard/Now you can’t get time with him, cuz’ there’s another girl/So all you have is nothin’, nothin’….”

When Mint Condition rushed to take advantage of their heightened profile last year by releasing 7, its uneven execution and overly-improvised feel demonstrated that time was still as essential as their talent when the aim was to create a memorable CD. Music….may not have as much of the organic instrumentation that their following has grown to expect, but it does exhibit that unique synergy and sophistication that true-school music lovers and the band’s faithful F.O.O.M.S. will recognize, guaranteeing that their eighth CD will be uploaded, acquired from stores and enjoyed alongside their previous ones with surety and Speed. Highly Recommended.

By Melody Charles

 


CLICK HERE to listen to Music @ the Speed of Life

 

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