July 3, 2021 Of Mice & Men – Bloom (EP Review)
Back in February 2021, Of Mice & Men delivered a three song EP, Timeless, that left us begging for more. Always such accommodating gentlemen, the band recently returned on May 28th with a second EP, Bloom, presented by SharpTone Records.
Continuing their ongoing evolution, one that initially began with 2018’s Defy and further refined itself into 2019’s fan favorite EARTHANDSKY, Of Mice & Men seemingly has zero plans to slow their productivity. Even the pandemic failed to foil the band, who simply expanded their home-studio setups, wrote together online, and self-produced their new music. Clearly the sidestep didn’t hurt the quintet—Vocalist/Bassist Aaron Pauley, Guitarists/Backing Vocalists Phil Manansala and Alan Ashby, and Drummer Valentino Arteaga—whose aforementioned Timeless EP, which arrived earlier this year, proved to be some of their finest work to date.
So it comes as little shock that the Orange County, California band is still pushing forward, aiming to offer fans a triptych of EPs throughout 2021; the red carpet, so to speak, that will lead to their seventh full-length disc, slated to drop before year’s end. Delivering on this promise with their signature passion and determination, Of Mice & Men has authored their second EP in three months, the three-song Bloom.
Picking up where the Timeless EP left off, they once again showcase their impressive technical skill, complementing and uplifting each of their infectious hooks with intelligent, poetic lyrics. Such is the case with the EP’s very first track, “Levee.” Here, rain falls gently; its somber yet familiar sound igniting our senses before Pauley’s bass begins the countdown to destruction. And when he and his bandmates explode into the body of the song, there’s a sense of relief that is coupled with the track’s hope-filled message.
Playing off this discussion of the cracks in the levee of life, they offer the bittersweet “Bloom.” Equally heavy in execution, its entrancing petals flutter across each of the senses as it delivers its “nothing gold can stay”-esque mantra, reminding us that the things that do last forever are falsities without true beauty. These observational prose provide the perfect set-up for the undeniably catchy “Pulling Teeth,” which, unfortunately, concludes the collection—but it does so with finesse and a spotlight placed on Arteaga’s delicately-timed ferocity.
Life is guaranteed to have cracks in its cement, something the men of Of Mice & Men know all too well. Sharing their knowledge on the Bloom EP, they urge their listeners to appreciate every moment while searching for their own way to weather each storm. An emotional look at mortality, it is a succinct collection that is fully aware that each of our struggles is what makes the flowers smell even sweeter when they eventually bloom. While it might sound macabre, these Cali boys have a way of making the harshness of reality into something poetic by mixing up their song structures and pairing sunrise and sunset together to create dual textures, all while keeping their fans afloat with hope for whatever comes next. For this, Cryptic Rock has no choice but to give the Bloom EP 5 of 5 stars.