Friday, November 22, 2013

REVIEW: Math and Physics Club - Our Hearts Beat Out Loud

Do you have an indie pop lover on your Christmas list?  I'm thinking of someone who appreciates guitar pop with a twee bent, a literate approach, a broad musical palette and a bit of an attitude.  Someone who would understand the value of analog recording at the famous Dub Narcotic studio in Olympia, Washington. Some years I'd give you a sympathetic shoulder to cry on, because this kind of music fan may be tough to please.  But this year we can make a suggestion that might cross a name off your list before the retail Armageddon known as Black Friday.  Yes, we can, because Matinee Recordings has just released Our Hearts Beat Out Loud from Seattle's Math and Physics Club.

The album delivers ten nuggets carefully crafted to tug your heartstrings, remind you of joy, take you to the bring of melancholy and then bring you back with a big sigh and expectation for a bright tomorrow.  There is classic twee pop, a few with a relaxed country feel ("We Didn't Run From Anyone" and "Thank God I Met You"), and a few that are more aggressive than is typical for this trio.  The basic set-up up is fleshed out with occasional organ, harmonica, cello and even a glockenspiel (Does one need a license for a glockenspiel?).  And the songs here bear that hallmark of good songwriting -- the ability to express raw emotions honestly without having to rely on excess drama.  And with the assured musicianship, warm vocals and pop hooks, we can take everything Math and Physics Club is serving.

An excellent introduction to the record is "We're Not Lost", just under four minutes of delicious young heartache.  If you are keeping lists of best indie pop songs of the year, you can write this one in on the list even before you press play.

One of the standout tracks is the previously released single, "Long Drag", on which the band shows a new dimension -- a narrator who is angry and willing to point out that his lover was the one who failed to work on the relationship.  With staccato percussion and handclaps, it is a great song with a killer refrain that underscores the power of music to heal wounded hearts.

Math and Physics Club is Charles Bert (vocals/rhythm guitar), Ethan Jones (bass/keys), and James Werle (guitar).  Jones co-produced the album with Bob Schwenkler.  Although I don't usually mention album art, the design for Our Hearts Beat Out Loud is an beautiful papercraft sculpture by New York artist Tae Won Yu.

The album is available on CD and 12"  vinyl.

Math and Physics Club website
Matinee Recordings page for album
Matinee Recordings website

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