Mighty Oaks – All Things Go (2020) – Review

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36 minutes of ecstasy after three years of wait, barely enough time to qualify as a full-length record. That is the listening pleasure that Mighty Oaks accord us in 2020.

Albeit that All Things Go boasts a tracklist of 11 short songs, which should be plenty to add a little flesh to the bones. But all of those are pointedly timed at some three minutes or so, something that a pretty mainstream punk rock band would strive for. Yet, this band here ain’t one of them.

You see, I had hopes that the change to BMG would get Mighty Oaks a little more wiggle room to prosper. But here we have the very same commercialized approach that the band already embarked on earlier. If the label played a role in this, I can’t tell of course. But we have all the sign of major sacrifices to the gods of commerce and the powers of the terrible mainstream.

Snip from Apple Music on All Things Go from Mighty Oaks.
Source: Apple

To make matters worse, it’s never a good sign if big distributors like Apple classify a band as Pop. Which – at the outset at least – Mighty Oaks ain’t. And in the past, these distributors have been uncannily and brutally correct in their admittedly simplistic assessments.

Well, this sounds like more bad news after all that bitching and moaning on RMR about Dreamers, doesn’t it? But never fear. Things do continue to lean towards Pop Rock, true. But we definitely got some of those folksy, fresh undercurrents at work again.

Already the title – All Things Go – gets us a whiff of the essence of Mighty Oaks. And this track also dispenses that youthful freshness. The one we found on Howl, but missed so badly on its successor.

And that definitely is a good sign.

And indeed, All Things Go now boasts a pretty weird mix between The Rasmus and earlier Train. With some Passenger-esque flavors thrown in for good measure.

The initial calling of Mighty Oaks and its past thoughtfulness are somewhat back in the game, too. Somewhat. Fly To You is a very good example of that. One of the better tracks, that smacks of Sharon den Adel’s My Indigo. Not that this is a bad thing. Because Sharon had her folksy genes flying on her solo album – and we were very impressed.

So, is the record really original, as in not been here before?

Not quite. I am missing this innovation thing, this urge to go the extra mile and dazzle the fan. Or why else would we get dealt with Crazy, a song that sounds like coming out of Taylor Swift’s soup kitchen?

You also find those duds like What You Got that just pull everything else down. And I’m a bit confused. Those originate from Tobias Kuhn who usually gets credited for a shitload of good work. But here we are not convinced with these stevia-sweet pieces that sit athwart the rest of the tracks. That’s this kind of direction that already got the aforementioned Train in trouble.

Some of the readers probably would like to accuse RMR of eternally lusting after the past. To seek a stable status quo, when we all know that there isn’t any steady state to have. But you see, Mighty Oaks have a lot of talent to dispense. Howl was the perfect example of that and whenever I fire it up it puts a smile on my face.

It pains us to see bands like that go down the mainstream route. An area that always spews the same cookie-cutter bullshit on ubiquitous radio stations. It’s a bit like going to a mall, just to find the same stores all over the world. At least you know what you get, right?

All Things Go sails pretty near that terrible cliff. Yet, the fare on the record invigorated us much more than Dreamers ever could. But did it put a smile on our mutual faces once we fired it up? No, not quite. There needs to be much more blood, sweat, tears, and painfully honest authenticity for that to happen.

So, in other words, All Things Go is a good record, but – boy – this band still has ways to go. Maybe we need yet another EP to give us some rage, some juicy spice, something to really write home about.

Ed’s note: Oh, and do check out that Mighty Oaks live review @ the Montreux Jazz 2022!

Record Rating: 6/10 | LabelBMG | Web: Official Band Site
Release date: 7 February 2020

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