The usual formula for pop music includes trite lyrics, a bass line that gets the young'uns dancing and a chorus that sticks around like the burning sensation from that night in Tijuana.
Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel created Mates of State in 1997, and it's become the best thing going in indie-pop, both embracing and tweaking the pop formula. Previous LPs Team Boo and My Solo Album were up-front pop albums, producing songs that were a blast to listen to. Unfortunately, this resulted in the albums sounding as though they ran together, as if two kids without a care in the world were playing the organ and drums in the bath tub and singing their hearts out-endearing, cute, but at times a bit overjoyed. But they seem to have hit their stride with their new EP, All Day, which contains a mere four songs, each of them a stand-alone gem.
Gardner explains what's different about the EP: "How it was recorded...: We're a little bit more flexible to have more fun and... not [just] go in and make an organ and drums album." Such a lack of restraint is evident. From Hammel's guitar licks to the airy background fills on the EP's cover of David Bowie's "Starman," All Day signals Mates of State's future while maintaining the light pop façade. The Bowie cover is especially fitting.
"We really liked the song and spontaneously decided we should learn it. We were really big fans of the record and decided it would fit us the best," says Gardner.
While it is requisite to mention the duo is married-which certainly doesn't hurt their incredible back-and-forth vocals-All Day forces you to take them more seriously than adorable newlyweds dancing giddily through the park. B
Mates of State play with Aqueduct and Smoosh at the Che Café on UCSD Campus, 8 p.m. on Feb. 18. $8. 858-534-2311.