Strutting into focus with a swaggering beat that works its magic on the audience as quick as it takes a match to ignite, “Come As You Are” comes on strong and keeps at us for the whole of its nearly four-minute running time. In this latest single from Canadian folk/country act Mad River, flashy hooks and virtuosic vocals take a backseat to homespun poetry, straight-talkin’ vocals and melodies that don’t need a lot of synthetic amplification to resonate with the listener. The instruments are colorful, the crooning is sly and a little mischievous, but the message here is more than clear – we’re all in this crazy life together, and one way or another, music is going to bring us together in the long run.
“Life is short so they say / Love every single day” we’re told towards the conclusion of “Come As You Are,” as if Mad River were imparting some final words to us before disappearing into the darkness through which they come rip-roaring at the start of the track. Though this particular pair of verses feels rather introspective and stoic, they come at the culmination of a multipart declaration of fun, pageantry and old fashioned good times. Instead of coming off as preachy, Mad River sound encouraging in this single, which is a nice change of pace from some of the self-righteousness that’s been infecting the mainstream airwaves with nonsensical narratives in the past year.
“Come As You Are” wraps up with the same unfanciful gust of grooves that it starts us up with, but while the end of this single isn’t all that different from its beginning, it doesn’t feel compromised or missing any fireworks at all. Mad River are still getting into the public consciousness, but in this song, they make a valiant attempt at raising the bar for both themselves and the scene that gave their career together life in the first place. It’s not a perfect homerun, but for the audience that this single and its video were tailor-made for, I “Come As You Are” deserves to be lauded as a big breakthrough for the musicians who penned it.