New York-based psych-rock duo White Hills have touched on political themes before (see track titles such as "False Revolution Toward a Slick Mirror," and the presence of a George W. Bush sample on 2007's Glitter Glamour Atrocity), but given the events surrounding the 2016 U.S. presidential election, they've felt no choice but to speak up. Like their past collaborators Gnod, who bluntly titled their 2017 album Just Say No to the Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine, White Hills urge their audience to take action on Stop Mute Defeat, declaring that "We are all responsible" and "We have the power to resist hate and apathy" in the liner notes. The duo's 2015 album, Walks for Motorists, emphasized synthesizers over acid-fried guitar solos, and while guitars are still present here, the group sound more industrial than ever. New York no wave scene veteran Martin Bisi mixed the album, and the songs' stiff drum machine beats are surrounded with harsh, dubby echo. Tracks like "Attack Mode" have an industrial metal crunch to them, but there's still a spaciousness to the mix. The vocals have a bit of a Skinny Puppy-like snarl to them, but the mix isn't as dense, noisy, and overwhelming. The lyrics carry clear messages; "Overlord" commands "Defy the laws of your country," and remarks on the nation's lack of attention span ("We lose interest in eight seconds"), punctuated by rapid-fire news bytes. The pounding "A Trick of the Mind" taunts the listener with repetitions of its title, additionally proclaiming that "No one is safe." "Importance 101" tells the listeners not to "rely on counting sheep," and "Attack Mode" speaks out against misogyny and gentrification. The album's second half moves further away from guitars, and is more tense and brooding, but not always as exciting. However, the album ends on a high note with the upbeat electro pulse of the title track. Stop Mute Defeat is a recharge and a reinvention for White Hills, and is, by necessity, their most focused work.
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AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson