311 Sail Into Uncharted Waters With ‘Mosaic’

4
8

311 has delivered good vibes, good time and most importantly, good songs on their twelfth album, Mosaic. Any way you look at it, twelve albums is a lot for a band. You’d be forgiven if you assumed this many albums into a career a band may begin to run out of ways to bring a freshness to their music. Rest assured. There are no such issues on Mosaic.

The sounds created on Mosaic are so laid back. So chill. So enticing. You get sucked in without realizing it. It’s calming and soothing. Not unlike relaxing on a beach or an island, soaking in the sun and breeze. 311 literally can transform your state of being. It has an innate positive effect on the listener. The music of Mosaic is richer and smoother than a 311’s last outing, 2013’s Stereolithic.

“Perfect Mistake” may be the song of the album. It echoes eras of the band’s storied career. There’s some rapping, there’s a lot of rocking. Heavy guitars layered on top of a reggae influenced rhythm section. But what about dat chorus? 311 are no strangers to delivering the goods on big hooks and catchy melodies but this is another animal all together. The juxtaposition of SA Martinez’s longing in the chorus followed by Nick Hexum’s rapping is phenomenal. What’s even better is they kind of switch their normal rolls and it works to perfection.

“Island Sun”, “Extension” and “Hey Yo” stand out as strong representations of the band’s ability to be remarkably consistent and proficient musicians and songwriters. The musicianship is top notch from start to finish. Lead guitarist Tim Mahoney and bassist Aaron “P-Nut” Willis shine throughout. Anyone familiar with the discography of 311 have come to expect these two to total slay at every given chance. Here is no exception. The bass tones pulse and pounce serving a strong groundwork. The guitar solos flash with brilliance. Always serving the song though. No Showing off. 311 may be the most unselfish group of musicians ever to band together.

Reuniting with long time producer Scotch Ralston, the band made the decision to also include Goldfinger front man, producer extraordinaire John Feldmann. It was just last year that Feldmann was abl to inject new life into Blink-182 on California. You could say the same here. The songs are tighter and more focused. The production is crisper if not slightly pop-oriented. See “Til the City’s on Fire.” All the makings of a classic 311 album but a very slick, almost “made-for-radio” production.

Lead single, “Too Much to Think” is a burner. It sets the stage perfectly for what’s to come. It’s fresh but familiar. The track has all the makings to become a staple of their live set for years to come on their summer Unity Tour.

This album is heavy on the reggae. Beach vibes all around. It’s no wonder they launched the 311 cruise. This is the perfect album for that kind of environment. This album best deserves to be listened all the way through as a journey. Individually there are a lot of strong tracks. But collectively, the album ebbs and flows with a mesmerizing energy.

Fans of the guitar heavy, straight forward rock of the mid-to late 90’s era of the band may be put off initially. But don’t be. The dueling guitars, Chad Sexton’s unmistakable snare drum, it’s all here. There is a lot of rock also. But it is when the summer vibes of the reggae soaked guitars and rhythms come out that Mosaic works the best.  If you give it a chance, you won’t be disappointed.

What puts Mosaic into another realm is the fact that 311 have not only made a really strong album, but they progressed. They forged new territory. By introducing some outside songwriters to the fold, a different style of production and taking some really big chances, 311 have shown their unwillingness to remain stagnant. Not many bands are still growing twelve albums into their career. But most bands aren’t 311.

  • Stone Gossardish

    A couple listens in it seems like a solid bounce back effort. The last album was quite rough, especially since it was the follow up to probably their best work yet.

    Mosaic is rather long, it borders on the line of cheese in spots, but it’s quite heavy. It has fantastic guitar sounds, and overall as the article mentions, it add to the 311 catalog.

    • Libby Nussbaum

      I’m so glad I’m not the only one that felt the last album felt like a regression. MOSAIC is what I wanted. it is SO GOOD. After the last one, I was a bit worried. This is a perfect mix of Transistor, and Don’t Tread on Me, with a bit of From Chaos tossed in.

      • Stone Gossardish

        Holy smokes, the last record was a face plant. The 2 Bob Rock records are ones I had no hopes for. But your ears don’t lie. Uplifter may be the best thing they’ve ever done, and they know it. I get that the follow up would be totally different, for many reasons. But it just didn’t hit at all. It’s arguably their worst, def in the conversation for the worst 2.

        Following up your best album is damn hard. And it showed. But Mosaic is a fine bounce back. Your description of the mix is spot on. There’s a lot of it that sounds like stuff in the past, but not exactly. That’s what makes it work, plus awesome sounding guitars.

        There’s a bit of a Linkin Park sound on a song or two, and 311 does tote the line of cheese often. They have their whole career, so that’s not a slap to those ready to defend. I’ve been a fan since 94 or so. I will probably go to a show of theirs again this summer, though they are quite short, to support them. Mosaic adds to the catalog and is a good comeback. There’s still gas in the tank, and that’s a relief to those of us that worried.

  • Chuck Hayes

    Beyond well said Brother!