The fourth album is more often than not the Shit Just Got Real album for a lot of bands. You’ve gotten those first two or three albums out of the way and under your belt and coming into the fourth, are finally comfortable in your own skin and comfortable with the sound you’ve developed.
It could broken down as such:
The First Album: it’s the We Just Want to Get Something Out There album. You’ve got a handful of songs, at least three quarters of them are good and you know someone with some recording equipment, as well as a growing fan base you’re eager to appease with something they can take home with them.
The Second Album: the Please Ignore That First Album, We Rushed It and This One is Much Better album. Pretty self-explanatory. The novelty of those first few songs you wrote has worn off and they seem dated. You feel this album is a much better representation of the band you currently are. The first album is already starting to feel a little embarrassing because “that’s not who we are now.”
The Third Album: and now we have the These Songs Are Road-Tested and We Think We’ve Finally Found What Our Sound Is album. You’ve started playing some better and bigger shows and with them, you’ve gotten your act together a little more. People in the band are starting to really know what their role is and it’s starting to show. You also have some money in your pocket and better connections, so recording isn’t as ghetto and duct-taped together, meaning the album sounds the best of the three.
The Fourth Album: the Yeah, This Is Who We Are and This Is What We Sound Like album. Polished songs and polished players, the fourth album is a natural extension of the third album and usually a better version of it.
I’m a big fan of the fourth album, if only because I like the fact that it is the best representation of what a particular band is striving to be. The kinks are out, sometimes some members are out. But more importantly, a vision has been flushed out. The fourth album (or sometimes the third if a band has snuck in an EP in there) is the cross roads and cross roads are generally exciting, if not at the very least, intriguing.
The Mallet Brothers Band, a fierce and lawless alt-country band from sunny Portland, Maine have released the kind of fourth album bands in their position dream of releasing. Lights Along the River is tight, balanced and well-constructed. It’s as polished of an album a bunch of rough necks recording in the Maine woods are capable of pulling off. You can hear the whiskey, smell the cigarettes, feel the shade of the well-worn hats perched atop their heads. I thought their last album, Land, was a high water mark for the band but it seems like I was wrong. Lights Along the River is the Mallet Brothers Band stepping it up a notch, hiking up their britches, lacing up their boots and letting people (and the wildlife they most likely disrupted while recording) know that they mean business.
I’ve come to realize that Mallet Brothers Band’s albums have a certain feel to them. Land felt like a drinking album to me and each song seemed to feel like a different kind of drink, prompting the creation of the Mallet Brothers Band Drinking Companion. Lights Along the River also has underpinnings of a good ol’ fashioned drinking album, but it feels more situational than Land. Dusting off the drinking companion doesn’t seem to feel as necessary and/or relevant. So instead, we’re creating the Mallet Brothers Band Situational Listening Companion. It’s pretty simple- either a song is a Driving Song or it’s a Campfire Song.
A Driving Song: high-energy, generally fast-paced, rambunctious, shit-kickin’ rock
A Camp-Fire Song: sing-a-long inducing, wistful, gets you gently swaying back and forth, raising your glass in a somber toast
Let’s see how things shake out.
“Late Night in Austin” – Driving Song
– great album opener
“There Are No Rules in This Game” – Driving Song
– a good ol’ shit kicker
“Sunny Day” – Campfire Song
– a gritty acoustic number with some sweet slide guitar work
“Les Pauls” – Campfire Song
– the sing-a-long variety and if this were the Drinking Companion, this is a beer can song
“Don’t Mind the Morning” – Campfire Song
– MMB write a dandy of an old school country tune
“Tennessee” – Driving Song
– textbook driving song, you can feel yourself keeping time on the steering wheel
“Rocking Chair” – Driving Song
– this shit is grimy. In a good way.
“Lights Along the River” – Campfire Song
– an entry for a possible third category- the Pensive Rambling Song
“Sam Wood” – Campfire Song/Driving Song
– a twofer! It was bound to happen.
“Coronado” – Campfire Song
– MMB really kill it with the harmonies
“The Irene” – Campfire Song
– just picture yourself swaying side to side, sittin’ on a log, watching those flames jump up and down…
“Tip Up” – Driving Song
– great way to end a great album
Check out the Mallet Brothers Band and learn more about the band HERE.