When most people hear the phrase ‘come as you are,’ the first thing they’re usually think of is the iconic Nirvana angst anthem released some twenty-nine years ago. Ironically, the new single from Mad River, also titled “Come As You Are,” couldn’t be any different from the legendary track it shares a title with. Stylized with a rollicking groove that bolsters the melody into happy-go-lucky territory quicker than most will be able to keep up with, Mad River’s “Come As You Are” is a feel-good folk/pop single that couldn’t be hitting the market at a more important time.
One of the most evocative elements in this song is the swinging percussion, which pounces on the listener like a jungle cat and doesn’t leave us alone for the duration of the track. By inviting us into the fold with a sturdy beat at the start of the song, Mad River blend a simplistic pop concept that was once perfected by The Beatles with a modern, neo-alternative rock efficiency that allows for a contemporary sound instead of a “vintage” tone. Time and thought went into the structuring of this material, and that’s obvious even at a distance.
All of the melodic instrumentation in “Come As You Are” is sublimely toned and very pleasing to the ear, and not because of any artificialities that have been working into the mix. There’s a rustic, almost classic rock-style texture to the guitar parts in the chorus that really caught my attention when I first listened to this track over the weekend, but again, not necessarily something that I would deem old school in comparison to some of the straight-up retro content pouring out of the underground lately. Mad River don’t seem like a band interested in recycling the past, and if they are, they’re not portraying themselves that way here.
Positive vibes have been in short supply throughout 2020, but that could be why Mad River’s “Come As You Are” feels like the breath of fresh air that it does this June. There’s nothing complicated about this single, nor the companion video made to support its release, and though I think it’s clear that the band behind its creation are capable of divvying out something more ambitious in the future, this is a good stepping stone (and indicator of their aesthetical depth). I’ll be waiting for more from this group soon, and after you hear “Come As You Are,” you’ll likely feel the same.
by Bethany Page