A brick in the culture of math rock
As fans of music, everyone could all probably relax their standards just a little bit. Throughout music history, there has been an overinflated level of importance ascribed to artists who “push the medium forward.” This isn’t to say that people shouldn’t appreciate the artists who are trying to do something new, or to say that people should settle for stagnant, dull music. It’s that there is something to be said for the hundreds of albums released each year that are excellent, but don’t move the genre in any particular direction. Covet’s latest effort, Technicolor is a prime example of this conundrum.
Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in the math rock scene is aware of the various modes employed in the genre. On the one hand, there is Japanese style of math rock which is focused more on texture and time signatures, and tends to be a little more relaxed and jazzy than its Western counterpart. On the other hand, there is metal influenced math rock. This style is focused on technicality and a noodling complexity, but people can also see a strong post-hardcore influence in this style. Bands like Dance Gavin Dance regularly incorporate math rock into their sound. Covet, despite being a Western band (the group is fronted by Yvette Young of San Jose, California) is more akin to Japanese math rock, and the sound is more relaxed as a result. Occasionally some post-hardcore and post-rock influences seep through, particularly on the closing moments of the track “predawn,” though most of the record remains fairly relaxed.
Technicolor then presents an interesting bridge between the two styles, and while it doesn’t push either style in a bold new direction, it does masterfully blend them to create an intoxicating record. Highlights include “nero,” “atreyu” and “odessa.” The former, and particularly “nero” represent a more Americanized version of math rock. The tone of the songs are still jazzy, but they ultimately stick closer to the sound of post-hardcore groups like Chon and Polyphia. Later tracks like “odessa” and “farewell” do stick a little closer to the Japanese mode of math rock, and as a result, stand out as some of the better tracks on the record. The true magic of the group becomes visible through the blending of these styles. Much like Chon, Covet employs occasional soft vocal elements and a pleasant, energetic lightness in their instruments to provide an escape for listeners. The resulting sound is light, complex, bubbly and enjoyable all at the same time. Though it doesn’t change the math rock game in the way that a group like Hella does, it is still just as enjoyable and exciting as anything that bills itself as adventurous.
It’s about time that people recognize the contributions that albums like Technicolor represent in music. While the trailblazers may always be more recognized for how they made a genre accessible to other musicians, it’s groups like Covet that establish the culture surrounding a genre. By releasing a technically masterful and engaging piece of math rock that doesn’t push the boundaries too far, but also doesn’t stagnate, Covet throws another brick into the building that is math rock. In doing so, they remind people that it is not just cornerstones that create a building, but every single brick that makes up all four walls.