Mystechs III is all show. Unholy Land is filled with a cynical social consciousness that feels forced, and coupled with the band’s manufactured, electronic sound, there is little that is genuine here. Instead of just making music, Mystechs III is constantly trying too hard to be seen as clever and intelligent .
After the short “Intro”, the first taste of Unholy Land is “Private Island Song”, a goofy take on corporate ambition. The sardonic vocals highlight the chorus of “Dear, you’re going to like here where money grows on trees”, but ultimately the song doesn’t make any original statement. This is Mystechs III’s pervasive problem. The comments it makes on modern life are neither deep nor thought provoking. “Fast Times at Club Versailles” takes a similar approach, criticizing the “beautiful people” of the world, but Mystechs III offers no solutions. It’s not hard to look around and point out what is wrong, and by doing this, Mystechs III has taken the easy way out.
Unholy Land‘s playful electronics, however, save the album somewhat. While far from the most advanced, Mystechs III has an ear for composition, and although the sounds they use are pretty low-tech, there is a retro charm to the band’s style, recalling some of the best synth-pop from the ‘80s. This does give its music an unreal quality, but it works for the low-key “Wonder of the World” and the trippy “The Gospel of Thomas”. Mystechs III’s music is unusual but also strangely familiar. This keeps the band from ever becoming too weird or too preachy. There’s at least a little bit to relate to here in the terms of the sounds the band is making.
Overall, Mystechs III is only successful in bringing together all the elements it works with on one song. The title track, “Unholy Land”, is the only place where Mystechs III seems to understand itself, and while lyrics like “I see righteous men in chains while evil men wear crowns” may cause some to cringe, they are delivered with indisputable hope and honesty. The swirling computer accompaniment is understated and provides the perfect backdrop for this song. Sadly, though, “Unholy Land” is not enough to save the entire album.
Mystechs III needs to learn more restraint and learn how to be sincere. Instead of constantly trying to prove itself as a band that has wit and a social consciousness, it needs to just be. Unholy Land misses its mark, and despite the band’s best intention, it is nothing more than an album full of gimmicks and little substance.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.
"PopMatters (est. 1999) is a respected source for smart long-form reading on a wide range of topics in culture. PopMatters serves as…READ the article