Make Do And Mend - Don't Be Long (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Make Do And Mend

Don't Be Long (2014)


When Make Do And Mend dropped news about their new record, it blindsided a lot of fans. There weren't teasers or any noise of them being the studio. I know a lot of fans had issues with their switch to Rise Records so maybe this was a reason? Couldn't be because I felt the reception of their last album was pretty solid. To be quite honest, seeing their development over the past few albums has been a real treat. From Bodies of Water to End Measured Mile, they've been able to switch their game up nicely, culminating in said Rise effort - Everything You Ever Loved - which felt like a shift in direction but still came off as the right steps forward. Don't Be Long, while not as rough and hard-edged as I'd have liked, is a continuation of their last chapter and when all's said and done, feels like MDAM are exactly where they belong in their journey.

To sum this album up, it'd be toned back but still, very melodically aggressive. Reminds me a lot of what their peers did in 2013 when Touche Amore flipped their usual post-hardcore script with Is Survived By. "Old Circles", "Sin Amor" and "Ever Since" display these traits the best. A bit too well-produced at times but still, while not the rawest of MDAM tracks, they still capture their post-hardcore essence pretty well. Lyric-wise and delivery-wise, I think a lot of this is carried along by James Carrol's vocals. His emotional outpouring is felt in every syllable and as expected, he brings his A-game filled with passion.

Guitarist Mike O’Toole's work doesn't smash and grab as much as the old days also, but still is focused and very deliberate. I wouldn't call his efforts minimal but what's most striking is the chords go hard when need be (and I'll admit this isn't often) and dial things back a notch seamlessly to keep contributing to the mainstream sound and overall accessibility they've been harnessing in their music over the years. However, they look out for die-hards along the way. The title-track is one of the few gems that throws longtime fans way back as the gruff, throaty vocals over distorted textures and slick solos really bring the MDAM nostalgia, and heavily so.

By the time the album starts to wind down, it feels tempered to a ballad-esque pace. Like Carrol's taking a deep breath to head off into the sunset. "I Don't Wonder At All" is the acoustic that brings the curtains down and really tells how wiser the band's grown and how brave they've gotten. Unafraid to change things up but still keeping the characteristics of old that maintain so much of their presence. MDAM don't put out the whirlwind ride I anticipated but all in all, Don't Be Long feels like it takes the best out of each chapter they've ever written and spliced it together to make something that I admit, we've waited a while to hear. I like how they're cutting their teeth on risk with earnesty and an ideal sense of optimism - all felt in their music. It's a move I'll bet they'll be wearing pretty well in years to come.