Mating Ritual - How You Gonna Stop It?

Review by Shannon Shumaker

Mating Ritual has forged his own brand of indie-pop on his debut full-length album, How You Gonna Stop It?. Dreamy synth easily merges with big rock influenced guitar and bass hooks, and coupled with Ryan Marshall Lawhon’s dynamic vocals, each track is not only incredibly unique to the genre, but also catchy and captivating.  

The album’s opening track is sure to hook you right off the bat as it kicks off with sparkly, oscillating synth. It’s a large, catchy as hell (without sounding bubblegum) opener that sets the tone for a warm, upbeat release just in time for summer. Really setting things in stone are Lawhon’s gritty, emotional vocals. This is also a big driving force in the second song, “Second Chance,” which is a significantly more vulnerable track about making right by someone when given a second chance. This song is made up of countless intricate layers, but it never once feels like too much. It’s complex without sounding distracting and vocally, it’s stunning.

If for some reason you still aren’t feeling How You Gonna Stop It? after the first two songs, then the third track is sure to win you over. This title track is fast paced and chaotic, taking yet another step away from the first two songs, but while still feeling cohesive. And when I say chaotic, I mean it. Vocally, this song moves at a frantic pace (Lawhon’s flow is absolutely insane) but musically, it’s bright and twinkly. It’s such a great merging of genres that it’s difficult to place your finger on it. Instead, it’s just Mating Ritual. Then, throwing you through another loop is the slow and soft following track, “Cold,” which is the exact opposite of “How You Gonna Stop It?”. “Drunk” then follows suit with a really dreamy soundscape coupled with occasional acoustic guitar.

Just when you think you have Mating Ritual figured out, he continues to switch things up and keep you on your toes, and the best part is, it totally works. There isn’t one single song on the album that feels out of place. After “Drunk” things pick up again in the groovy, drum heavy, “American Muscle.” The instrumentals on this track aren’t the only strong aspect, though. Lyrically, the song hits home with the repeated final lines, “If we want something to get done/We gotta do it for ourselves.” Two songs later, Mating Ritual then dives into the synth-driven, “Night Lies,” which is rounded out with female vocal harmonies that really help the song feel stunning and full.

Bringing How You Gonna Stop It? to a strong close is the uplifting second to last track, “I’m Just Alright” before the stunning final song, “Swim.” One last time before the end, Mating Ritual showcases his ability to craft diverse yet cohesive songs with these two very different sounding tracks, really driving the theme of the album home. From track to track, there’s a little something for everyone, and as a whole, How You Gonna Stop It? is an incredibly dynamic release.

LISTEN TO: "How You Gonna Stop It?" or "I Wear Glasses"


Purchase How You Gonna Stop It?: