Hearing Aide: Mirk “Run”

Mirk, an Albany-based R&B band released their third endeavor, Run, and the melodies are already too catchy. The most accurate description of the seven piece band is evolutionary. Between the band’s first two albums, Love and Grind, and now Run, no element is subtle. Maybe Mirk says they’re “running out of time,” but this album is proof of the exact opposite.

The band implemented many changes which are apparent from the first audible second of the album. Run opens with a ballad starting with new keyboard player James Rock and the band’s female backing vocalist Tara Merritt, whose voice is much more prominent – and rightfully so – than it ever has been before. Both Rock and Merritt are in high spirit and are set up to bring to the album the same energy of a dark, smokey bar room. This opening track, “Let it Go,” sets the intense, yet dynamic mood for the rest of the album.

As such, the addition of James Rock on keys is critical to the round sound of this album. Rock may be young, but he lives up to his name. He gives Run a rock ‘n’ roll angle. He’s not afraid to overplay, to voice full, nearly obnoxious, uninterrupted chords. And that’s a good thing because this allows the rest of the band, especially guitarist Mike Thornton, and bassist Kate Sgroi to weave around this soundscape, and experiment with far more notes than Grind saw. Grind is no failure. It’s a great artifact, and a clear stepping stone, but it can be surpassed, as Run proves.

Just seconds into this first track, “Let it Go,” lead vocalist Josh Mirsky comes in with the opposite of his usual trade: a backing vocal part to Merritt. He sings, “I ain’t got no money,” as a response to her aching voice, which might give a listener chills. Again, that barroom feel is heavy, but here the light fades up onto the rest of the band. They’re definitely not a mechanized backing track, either. They’re personable. They’re human. Instead of being “the band,” for a solo artist, the whole group works as a cohesive unit to bring an emotional element to the music, especially during “My City,” and “Marathon,” two previously released singles which made heavy use of Chris Russell’s sax.

This is reminiscent of Mirk’s previous endeavorsThe soulful element of this album appears especially in tracks like “Turn Me On,” which listeners heard on Grind, such as “Butterscotch.” On the other hand, the album also contains some of Grind’s driving rock beats – provided by Stephen Struss — on songs like “Torture.” However, old Mirk fans – including those who first heard Love – aren’t the only ones that will be pleased with Run. The album furthers the band’s ability to try new things. Lovers of experimental bands like Muse might enjoy the title track, “Run,” whereas Billy Joel fans will relate well to “Love Above” – and even this, and the next track, “Crowd Surf,” turn into hip-hop in the style of someone like Weerd Science. But no matter what you’re listening to, the prime mover of Run is the fact that Mirk is not sticking to a specific theme – they’re writing what they want to write.

Run perfectly utilizes Mirk’s tried and true methods of mixed genre fun, with the evolutionary sounds of each instrument and vocal track. They are only getting better and we recommend seeing them in Albany before they’re out of town for good, because this band is only going to get bigger.

Key tracks: Let it Go, Love Above, Marathon

Run can be downloaded on iTunes, and physical copies are available on Mirk’s online store.