CD, Artoffact, 2007
Canadian label Artoffact found Missouri’s fourth album, “Run With the People and Hunt With the Hare” (original release: Tapete Records, 2005), spectacular enough to make the effort to license it for North American distribution as of late 2007. Knowing what to expect from a Nuremberg, Germany-based band named after a Midwestern American state is something most listeners will find decidedly difficult to grapple with (author’s note: Missouri was once known as the “Gateway to the West” and its largest ancestry group consists of German immigrants – interpret as you will). On the other hand, once the album plays, it’s a rather simple task to pigeonhole Missouri as yet another band riding the early twenty-first-century wave of funk-infused, electronic-branded indie rock, the likes of which most are familiar thanks to hanging out and sipping PBR at the local hipster hotspot, or by just listening to college radio anytime in the past decade. Highly danceable and unashamed of its elementary lyrical formula, “Run With the People and Hunt With the Hare” is an album that will shake up expectations in more ways than one. For now the most pressing question remains: who knew this music could be Teutonic in origin?
In many ways “Run With the People and Hunt With the Hare,” with its soul music style, blues influences, wistful pedal steel guitar and bubbling disco-funk rhythms, is a throwback to 1970s-era R&B. It’s a suitable fit for that lounge atmosphere of stylish cool with which to paper the background of a loft party where everyone talks over the music anyway, at least until the ladies have tipped back enough cosmo’s to start dancing, but that’s about it. Lead vocalist “Red” (sure, whatever) intones and moans in an unaccented and enunciated manner admittedly ready-made for this sort of preening agenda, pushing stories of love, yearning and sex almost exclusively and, aside from the slow-burn, balladic “Frankie Teardrop,” effectively avoiding any really serious introspection. However candid and naïve Missouri’s lyrics might seem, their method inevitably holds a certain power, simply because everything is craftily overlaid by that greatest of dance floor equalizers, bass-heavy electronic funk. Songs like “If You Got the Devil in You Girl” and “Sister Sister” build off catchy refrains and rock’n’roll hooks that won’t hesitate to shuffle some feet and coax forth the occasional sing-along – and that alone seems to be the point. Relaxed soul-funk churner “Move On” might well induce a critical time/space dislocation to the sets of “Shaft” or “Superfly,” but the novelty wears off quickly. Even if the themes expressed on “Run With the People and Hunt With the Hare” aren’t exactly musically progressive or culturally critical, they at least provide enough classic groove in a straightforward, egalitarian manner to keep the party rolling.
— Dutton Hauhart