Not content with topping charts with 2014’s smash-hit Unconditional, Memphis May Fire have taken it upon themselves as artists to enlist a fine-tuning to an already solid record. The original intent of Unconditional was that each song would feature a movie score-esque composition underneath MMF’s trademark combination of soaring choruses, urgent growls and energetic rhythm sections. The mix was however too rough around the edges to paint such a picture and this concept went over many fans’ heads.
Luckily for them the deluxe package of Unconditional is not only a definite improvement over the original, but a solid package that includes 2 brand new songs and 2 substantial acoustic renditions of already established tracks from the original recording. Even with all of these extra goodies though, is Unconditional worth exploring again?
The answer is a resounding “absolutely”. It may seem a bit superflous to suggest that better mixing can offer up this huge amount of change in depth, but such is the case here. “No Ordinary Love” already showcased the transition from fear of what life can bring to becoming infatuated with living due to a greater force well enough, but thanks to Brian Hood’s clearer mix that transition is now sonically so much more well-defined. “Sleepless Nights” was intimate and creepy enough before, but now it’s downright crushing and engulfing. The moments of beauty on the album, such as the subtle cinematic build-ups throughout “Divinity” now have extra clarification due to improved sound quality, and the fine musicianship displayed on the record, notably from the aforementioned tight rhythm section, is now even more precise. This is something the new songs “My Generation” and “Stay The Course” really focus on and expand. “My Generation” especially impresses, undergoing a fresh anthemic progression in the second verse that acts as a call-to-arms chant rather than simply repeat the odd off-time section established in the first verse. This could also be regarded as the band’s most involving and technical song to date. “Stay The Course” on the other hand is an aptly-named song of persistence and its flow reflects that, admirably so.
Why revisit Unconditional? It’s like receiving a better eye-wear prescription: You were content (or maybe not) with your previous lenses but now you see clearer and notice more than you once did. All of the small intricacies are more easily defined and now shine instead of hiding in a muddied mess.