Math and Physics Club

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Jangle pop. Unfamiliar readers will find that Hurry Home Dark Cloud has a multitude of issues with typical genre conventions. Predominantly, we find they are too confining and often pigeonhole an act unfairly.

However, despite the laughably absurd genre title, jangle pop fits Seattle crew Math and Physics Club quite well. So well, in fact, that a cut from last years EP sounds eerily similar to influential eighties band The Smiths – perhaps the most celebrated purveyors of pop that jangles.

“Nothing Ever Happened” appears to be distinctly fashioned as a homage to the work of The Smiths, seeing as the carefree guitars and utterance of lines such as “I must be terribly lonely” are textbook Morrissey trademarks.  

It’s sunny, upbeat music that sounds awfully pleasant during a long Saturday afternoon. Considering the depressing dearth of music this breezy and blissful, we’ve composed an open letter to the band:

Dear Math and Physics Club,

More, please.

Sincerely,

Your friends at Hurry Home Dark Cloud

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“Nothing Really Happened” from Baby I’m Yours EP (2007)

Published in: on March 16, 2008 at 10:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Smiths: Meat Is Murder

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Meat Is Murder, the sophomore effort from pioneering English band The Smiths, found the act experimenting with a myriad of genre bending styles. First of all, Morrissey’s long time penchant for Elvis-esque rockabilly is in full gear (i.e. “Rusholme Ruffians”) as well as more sensitive, introspective ballads (“I Want the One I Can’t Have”).

Not immediately accessible, and with no standout radio single, the record would remain one of The Smiths least favored records. It’s remarkable, then, to recall that Meat Is Murder is the only original album to chart at #1 in the U.K. The inclusion of the immensely popular “How Soon Is Now” on the U.S. release ensured that Meat Is Murder would also sell reasonably well stateside.

The politically charged ideology is abjectly confrontational but never quite approaching tiresome. Lettuce love lullaby “Meat Is Murder” is, like veganism, an aquired taste. Though a bit preachy and self-righteous, the lyrical content does hold some sad truths. Just recently, to the shock of no one, it’s come to light that some slaughterhouses routinely employed torture.

“Barbarism Begins At Home” and sister song “The Headmaster Ritual” serve as compelling odes decrying the stringent disciplinarian tactics of English schoolhouses.

Perhaps the most amusing track is “Nowhere Fast” with it’s giddy declaration of “I’d like to drop my trousers to the Queen” amid typically dispiriting reflective imagery such as: “I think about life and I think about death, and neither one particularly appeals to me.” Brilliant.

Meat Is Murder is primarily regarded as an important step in the creative growth of The Smiths which reaches its peak with the monumental third release The Queen Is Dead. Check back soon for an upcoming discourse on that album as we continue our spotlight series on The Smiths.

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“Rusholme Ruffians” from Meat Is Murder (1985)

“Barbarism Begins At Home” from Meat Is Murder (1985)

The Smiths

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“It’s time the tale were told of how you took a child and you made him old.”

So begins the eponymous debut album by seminal eighties band The Smiths. From there, the record unravels to reveal layer after layer of complex lyrical arrangements that touch on everything from distresses concerning social economics to denouncements of abject murder.

In defiance of their contemporaries, The Smiths adopted a back-to-basics approach – which their very name suggests. They dressed down in t-shirts and denim, rather than gaudy costumes or stage outfits. They utilized the standard structure of guitar/bass/drums at a time when synth was everything.

Frontman Morrissey wasn’t afraid to wordlessly vocalize or display an almost comical falsetto on tracks like “Miserable Lie.” Guitarist Johnny Marr was just coming into his own as an accomplished arranger, as if he was only then realizing the power his instrument held to impel tracks like “This Charming Man.”

In short, The Smiths were young yet eloquent, and what they lacked in experience they made up for with surprisingly erudite sentiments.

Take “This Charming Man”, for example, an early single penned with such ace insight that an inscrutable line like “Why pamper lifes complexity when the leather runs smooth on the passenger seat” doesn’t pan out as obtuse but rather quite fetching.

The bulk of the album continues this trend of shrewd awareness for humanity’s darker recesses: “Pretty Girls Make Graves” is a sexually-androgynous ode to romantic frustration, and “Hand in Glove” continues this theme with lines like “No, it’s not like any other love. This one is different.”

The Smiths was a landmark album and a sign of great things to come. This album and the ones proceeding it would influence acts as diverse as Belle & Sebastian, Radiohead, Doves, and Suede in the years to follow.

Check back soon at Hurry Home Dark Cloud for upcoming reviews of the remainder of The Smiths catalog, including the oft-forgotten live album Rank.

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“This Charming Man” from The Smiths (1984)

“You’ve Got Everything Now” from The Smiths (1984)

Published in: on March 9, 2008 at 10:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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