Math the Band - Get Real
Record Label: Anchor Brain
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Get Real is the 10th (!) album from the Massachusetts duo Math the Band. Their party-friendly music is as much Anamanaguchi as it is Andrew WK, as Get Real is 15 straight tracks of chiptune/Nintendo punk blasts crammed into 38 minutes. Only two tracks are over 3 minutes long, and the vast majority of the album is an 8-bit race with shouted vocals that are rarely in tune. Math the Band doesn't take themselves very seriously, and neither should you. Fortunately, the musicianship is great, and often spectacular. If you are a nerd for 80s nostalgia you'll love all of the 8-bit electronic bits, but buried in the obvious homage are great melodies.
There are some spectacular moments in songwriting on the record, as "Hey Alright" and "Dead Physical" contain instantly catchy electronic beats that command attention. Get Real is full of little 15 second riffs that stick in your head for days at a time, and it's consistent across the whole record. The title track "Get Real" may be the album's best track, as it takes the tempo down just a bit for a second in favor of some finesse, and the result is the album's most impactful track. Unfortunately, as is the case with the entire album, the vocals are horrible, and it's up to the listener whether they can get past them or not. Some may find them tongue-in-cheek and part of the experience, while others may find them to be a grating distraction over otherwise excellently crafted music.
There's not much of a way to sugar coat what goes on vocally in Get Real. The record is full of ridiculously juvenile lyrics with simply shouted vocals. There's not much in the way of singing on the record, as the vocals are mostly alternated between male and female counterparts. They're never in tune, they're just yelled. They're more than a deterrent, they come close to ruining the band's appeal. It's a real killer to the album's lasting appeal. The delightfully crafted songs are enough to go back to and give repeated listens, but you'll find yourself often skipping songs before they are over because of how obtrusive the vocals are, overpowering what is nothing short of brilliance in song creation. By the end of the record, you'll find yourself having to work to not skip songs at first annoyance.
Get Real is a difficult album to review given it's polarizing nature. There's true talent and musicianship on display, and it is impossible not to smile and bounce to the band's infectious brand of chiptune spazz-punk. The vocals are a brutal distraction. I would kill to have an all instrumental version of this record like Anamanaguchi chooses to perform this genre (albeit much more subdued), but as it stands you have a record that is just one grating problem away from being excellent. There's still enough here to have an enjoyable listening experience, if you can stomach half of the attack.