Matty Mullins (pictured fronting Memphis May Fire) photographed by Brooke Long Photography for HM Magazine
Fiery, redheaded, tattooed, and renown frontman for Dallas based metalcore band Memphis May Fire Matty Mullins now has one more badge he’s added to his personal collection: pop solo artist. Although he’s been tearing it down with his trademark unclean vocals in MMF for years, he’s continuing to explore his softer side (as well as his faith) in the release of his second solo album, Unstoppable.
The LP is a shining contrast to the Mullins many are used to hearing in MMF and a true credit to his chameleon-like ability to adapt to the scene he chooses to serve. Although this isn’t the introductory album to his solo career, uncovering (or even rediscovering) Mullins’ sunny pop solo gig is a bit of a shock. It’s not unlike Parks and Rec fans finding out that the uber-rugged Ron Swanson moonlights as the slick sax player Duke Silver. In similar ways, fans of Mullins from his metalcore work must allow a moment (and an open mind) to be thunderstruck in coming across this very different work, going in accepting the dramatically brighter endeavor he is pursuing. Although a stark difference in style from his “day job,” Mullins exhibits great creativity in the inescapably catchy Unstoppable. It’s got a higher vocal register than MMF listeners are used to, which is coupled with squeaky clean, vivacious vocals.
Fans of Mullins from his metalcore work must allow a moment (and an open mind) to be thunderstruck in coming across this very different work, going in accepting the dramatically brighter endeavor he is pursuing.
As could be expected, Mullins maintains a robust practice of creative versing. This is most prominently displayed in the illustrious “Go the Distance,” which is a gorgeous song about the great lengths to which God will go for his children. This track, in particular, has a very clear stamp of emotional and honest songwriting which seems to be the fingerprint Mullins leaves on all music he touches.
Fittingly, the album is a good representation of some familiar areas of Christian pop, and Mullins explores several directions. For example, “The Best Is Yet To Come” is very much a Sunday morning worship song, whereas songs like “Say It All” are more of an external encouragement about putting faith into action. (The latter also happens to be as much of a banger as you will find on Unstoppable with it’s smooth chorus and pulsing intro.) With careful song selection and the targeting of a modern appeal, the album is a mixed bag, claiming a wide array of stylistic approaches.
Unstoppable does want for a bit of edge or a divergence from certain aspects of the “Christian pop music machine,” appropriate to say the album flirts with the cliche without falling prey. In that vein, it’s difficult to mention the permeating pop influence on Unstoppable without drawing one strong comparison: early millennial Christian boy band Plus One. It’s the music you pretended you hated around your friends, but the kind of indulgence you would crank when alone because the music wasn’t actually that bad and the message was inspiring. Thankfully, Mullins’ creativity, raw talent and songwriting prove that although his solo work may be in some ways similar to such artists, he should be considered a distant exponent of their work, an evolution of degrees from those roots.
With many things going for it overall, the most alluring part of the album is that it genuinely seems personal. Quite frankly, it’s impossible to overlook the sincerity that infiltrates Mullins’ words. Although his revelations are ages old, they are certainly revisited with a personal perspective worth hearing. Unstoppable is, in many ways, a vulnerable moment in Mullins’ life story. It bravely displays a reminder for us all every instance of surrender, discovery of faith, or renewal of a lost relationship with God is worth celebrating.