The oh-so-smooth, endlessly breathy pop of Maroon 5 mixes with modern R&B flourishes on Fundamental Elements' new six-song EP, This Moment. The band stuffs its tightly constructed songs with buzzy synthesizers, funky electric piano chords and a few hip-swaying beats. Joe McGill's guitar sounds are used as ornamentation rather than a foundation for these songs, and that alone pushes the band out of the traditional rock & roll box. And that's OK, because singer Russ Mohr seeks glossier pastures. He's a technically proficient vocalist and a confident, capable frontman, though the band owes much of its sound to his chameleon-like skills on the mic. The aforementioned Maroon 5 influence is omnipresent, and at times Mohr emotes like John Mayer or breaks it down like a neo-soul crooner.
Fundamental Elements excels at a type of music where style, and not substance, is paramount, but the music on Moment has a message. "Standing in the Shadows" is a call for unity and brotherhood, a plea wrapped in the disc's most driving, head-bobbing rhythm. The altruism continues with the piano ballad "You're Not Alone," which offers some heartfelt, if generic, words of wisdom for the down-and-out. The song is a little treacly, but it gives Mohr a soft-focus platform to lay down smooth and soulful platitudes. Rock fans may struggle with the high sheen on the EP, but lovers of carefully arranged, straight-to-the-heart pop music will find much to love.
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