Elusive Parellolograms - Fragments
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Fragments' opener "Lucidity" is exactly the antithesis of what it's name suggests. A cluttered, chaotic and noisy din of at least a half dozen instruments clanging and clattering and smashing themselves together. That it all works as well it does is a testament to the band's collective vision, but Lord love a duck, it sure is an odd way to start an EP. Things come more into focus on the sweetly affecting "Helium," a swirling vortex of ringing guitars, twee vocals and an arrangement that calls to mind The Spinto Band. Vocalist Andrew Foys has a fragile timbre that lends itself well to the song's understated production. Even with that, "Helium" has a rising and vernal quality that calls to mind the rush and whirr of a first date, or better yet, a first kiss.
The teetering "Semantics" has the same intensity of "Lucidity" but shakes and rattles with an unsteadiness that makes it both captivating and dizzying. Lead single "8-bit" revisits the same veneer with a three-minute slice of psych pop that is jittery, fractious and tense. Like an afternoon spent drinking Nos or Lucozada, "8-bit" is nerve-addled, dense and almost hallucinogenic. Buttressed by a swirly, almost circular chorus, the song is equal parts inviting, enveloping and infectious.
Penultimate offering "Street Legal" is arguably the EP's cleanest, most straightforward and immediate testament to power pop. Calling to mind Boston forward-thinkers Wheat, "Street Legal" is brainy, artful and unapologetic. In short, it's what much of indie pop strives towards, but never truly ascends to. Fragments concludes with "Absolution" a hurried and slightly unfocused effort that finds the Milwaukee quintet losing their footing somewhat. An EP's conclusion should be a last will and testament, a closing salvo that leaves it all on the table. If "Absolution" is truly that then perhaps Fragments needs far more clarity. While the song does sharpen its focus around the two minute mark, the end result cannot be saved from a rather lackluster opening.
Fuzzy, grungy and unabashedly in love with post-punk, Elusive Parallelograms proves on Fragments that they have ample amounts of genius within them. Whether or not that genius gets fleshed out on the next effort remains to be seen. Now six recordings into their career, the band seems firmly bent to release music on their own terms for themselves. Whether that translates to success is anyone's guess. But for now, Fragments is something worth celebrating and something worth keeping an eye on. It is certainly far from perfect, but it also eerily pure. Anytime rock music can be this unfiltered, this naked and this brainy, it's worth a few minutes of editorial. Either way, it will get people thinking. Isn't that really the point of art after all?