Here at the Send Me Your Ears studio today, we’ve been listening to the latest single from mUmbo. Fringe Benefits was released on June 2nd, 2023, and takes a slightly different direction again to the tracks we’ve heard from mUmbo in the past. We’ve previously reviewed them several times, and each time, they surprise us by venturing into different genres and mixing it up.

Fringe Benefits has a definite riff-based blues feel to it. The electric guitar that leads you into the song is catchy and will have you slow-nodding at the very least, and more likely, strutting around the room with a confidence you’ve only just discovered!

mUmbo describe Fringe Benefits as being “about the attempt to hold onto hope and personal freedom within a society that is increasingly repressive. It alludes to the very real hardships that many people are facing in the UK at the moment. Through social media we live in a world of instant gratification and quick fixes; the reality for us all, of course, is quite different.”

The intoxicating rhythms of the electric guitar pervade throughout the song, stylistically very reminiscent of early Dire Straits (their debut album in particular). The electric guitar is joined by bass and drums before female vocals take centre stage.

As with previous tracks, we likened Emma’s vocals to Natalie Imbruglia, but there’s just a touch of Stevie Nicks here in this track too, and the bends and licks in her voice suit the style of the song perfectly with a laid-back nonchalant approach.

There are some great sections in this track – we especially love the use of toms – and the use of stops for a kind of tension/release feel is particularly effective here.

An instrumental section brings the song to a quick fade out, with the guitar repeating that hypnotic riff and some tremolo chords over the top keep the listener engaged.

Ideas from our ears

This track could really benefit from some mastering adjustments. Firstly, a large boost (maybe 10-12dB?) around 60Hz to bring the kick drum and bass into the mix. Another smaller boost around 350-400Hz for some extra fullness in the low mids. A couple of cuts around 800-900Hz and again around 3.5-4kHz to reduce some ‘honky’ and ‘harsh’ tones respectively. A final boost around 12kHz for a touch of extra brightness and ‘sizzle’. Lastly, a light compressor/limiter with maybe as much as 5-6dB of make-up gain would further increase the warmth overall and raise the volume to match other commercial releases. As always, these are just some ideas from our ears.

Final thoughts

mUmbo always keep us on our toes with changes in styles and approaches. Their music is charming and unique. Fringe Benefits is the latest offering from this classy inter-continental trio, and we strongly urge you to check it out.

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