Keep the Change” – Mattiel

Featured here previously last April, Mattiel is back with another irresistible slice of retro-current indie rock. “Keep the Change” is a high-energy stomper that has the air of an instant classic about it, straddling with flair and sly humor that often fine line between where we’ve been and where we’re going.

The recurring, six-note motif that launches the song through the intro is an apt aural symbol of the slightly off-kilter fun to come: on the one hand it’s got a Springsteen-esque grandeur, on the other hand it’s being plinked out on what sounds like a xylophone. When the drums join in at 0:14, the momentum is literally unstoppable, the drummer hitting every beat equally through the entire song except for a brief deviation in the pre-chorus, as lead singer Mattiel Brown sings, “When I throw my weight/I never throw it crooked/I always throw it straight” (itself an obliquely amusing thing to say). Another curveball arrives via the decision to call the song “Keep the Change,” in defiance of standard practice, which would derive the title from the song’s most often heard phrase (in this case that would be “Wasted all my time”). “Keep the change,” on the other hand, is a lyric we hear just twice (starting at 2:53) in the song’s late-arriving bridge.

And don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing laugh-out-loud funny going on here; the humor is more of that special, smile-inducing kind that music alone can create. If anything, Mattiel herself appears to favor humor of a particularly dry kind. The video for “Keep the Change” is a good example, featuring her setting about, blank-faced, on a series of inscrutable tasks, by herself, in an industrial site that has no recognizable purpose. The biggest clue that she’s having fun comes from the title she’s given the album where you’ll find “Keep the Change”—that title being Satis Factory. It took me a moment to register that. You can listen to the whole thing, and buy it in a variety of formats, via Bandcamp.

The album, her second, was released in June. She still seems to be employing Mattiel as a band name, even as her Facebook site doesn’t list band members. She/they is/are based in Atlanta. MP3 via The Current.

(Note that MP3s from The Current are available in files that are 128kbps, which is below the iTunes standard of 192kbps, not to mention the higher-def standard of 320kbps. I personally don’t hear much difference on standard-quality equipment but if you are into high-end sound you’ll probably notice something. In any case I always encourage you to download the MP3 for the purposes of getting to know a song via a few listens; if you like it I still urge you to buy the music. It’s the right thing to do.)