311 – Mosaic
1.) Too Much To Think
3.) The Night Is Young
4.) Island Sun
5.) Perfect Mistake
7.) Inside Our Home
8.) ‘Til the City’s On Fire
9.) Too Late
10.) Hey Yo
11.) Places That the Mind Goes
12.) Face in the Wind
13.) Forever Now
14.) Days of ’88
15.) One and the Same
16.) Syntax Error
17.) On a Roll
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: June 23rd, 2017
Release Date: BMG
Official Website: 311 Website
For over three decades 311 have been pioneers of American music. Since their formation, the 5-piece band out of Omaha, Nebraska have masterfully blended hard hitting rock, head banging rap, and soothing reggae. Whether it’s a hard rock anthem like “Down” or a bubbly slow-jam like “Amber,” their distinct style is unmistakable. 311 have released several chart-topping albums during their illustrious run, but perhaps they are best known for their dynamic live performances. Closing in on the group’s 30th anniversary, 311 haven’t shown any signs of stopping.
On their twelfth studio album MOSAIC, 311 slip in and out of vintage form throughout the album, often even within songs. MOSAIC is an extensive, 17-track album with some brilliant flashes of the creativity and edge that endeared them to reggae, rock, and rap fans alike. A handful of fluffy songs hold back the album, but MOSAIC is a clear rebound from Stereolithic and a worthwhile summer soundtrack.
MOSAIC’s cover art is an actual mosaic of fan photos, but the title is fitting for the music as well. 311 have always been a genre-defying band, cross-pollinating hard rock, funk, reggae, and hip hop. MOSAIC continues on that path with a diverse collection of songs, many of which take on themes of outer-space and extraterrestrial life.
The album begins with the lackluster track “Too Much To Think,” but 311 heats things up on the following song “Wildfire.” Nick Hexum delivers a swift, rambling verse with the beat building up behind him. SA Martinez lets loose in the same format with a free flowing rap. “Wildfire” culminates with a dark, doomsday-esque guitar solo from Tim Mahoney.
“The Night Is Young” and “Island Sun” are two ideal songs for the summer time. The song highlights Hexum’s mastery of phrasing and timing. He always seems to know just where to take his lyrics or how long to hold on to a word. “Island Sun” is a lighthearted, laxed-out summer jam. On the hook, Hexum sings, “Take your frozen heartache, lay it in the island sun, bake it like a snowflake, drink the water it becomes.”
Between “Perfect Mistake” and “’Til The City’s On Fire” the album takes a noticeable dip in song quality. “Perfect Mistake” plays like a bad Linkin Park song. SA and Nick’s verses are a bit rough, both in content and delivery. “’Til The City’s On Fire” is catchy for a brief moment, but it’s insufferably pop. “Inside Our Home” almost strays into that territory as well, but the quick, spacey guitar riff played over the chorus works beautifully. Mahoney certainly brought his full palette of guitar textures for MOSAIC.
“Too Late” is a bass heavy track that features a great back-and-forth between SA and Nick. This is one of those old school 311 hooks that makes you want to stomp around and head bang. “Hey Yo” is another high-octane song with an infectious chorus. “Hey Yo” should be a very welcome addition to 311’s live performance. However, the best song on MOSAIC has to be “Face In The Wind.” The song starts with an ambient build up, turning over to a fuzzy, distorted guitar riff. On “Face In The Wind,” Martinez and Hexum play off each other beautifully, like volleyball players setting each other up for a spike.
MOSAIC finishes up with a handful of mediocre songs, the exception being “Forever Now.” “Days of ’88” throws it back to the formative years of 311, while “On a Roll” fast forwards to the present and future.
To fit the full range of sounds that the band has to offer, 311 crammed a ton of music on to MOSAIC. The album has something to offer to everyone. Ultimately, MOSAIC would have been a better straight through listen had they given the axe to about 4 or 5 songs, but it’s hard to fault a band for providing more music than less. There are a ton of layers to this album, and the percussion and guitar in particular reveal themselves more and more after a few listens. MOSAIC has a selection of gems and it’s share of head-scratchers, but 311 prove that when they dial it up, they remain one of the most consistent and dynamic bands in the game.
Written & Reviewed By: Brian Winters
[Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, NOT the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]
Listen: 311 – “Face In The Wind” [Audio]