Tuesday, January 12, 2016

British Math Pop. Trust Me. This is Important

Sadly I cannot take credit for coming up with the genre name British Math Pop. At least I don't think so anyway, and I am still not even sure it technically exists. I feel almost certain I read about "Math Pop" somewhere, and perhaps I added the geographic distinction just a few moments ago. Regardless, I have never been a big fan of silly made up music sub-genres like Adult Alternative, Sadcore, Screamo, or Cowpunk, but I see how it happens, so far be it for me to not perpetuate that wrong.

In the interest of moving this important initiative along, the internet describes "Math Rock" as...

...a rhythmically complex, guitar-based style of experimental rock that emerged in the late 1980s. It is characterized by complex, atypical rhythmic structures (including irregular stopping and starting), angular melodies, and dissonant chords

So naturally, it should make sense that Math Pop is all of those things, but maybe with less muscle and perhaps more focus on melody and harmony. Regardless of whether a case could be made that British Math Pop is in fact a genre, here is why it is important. Over the last number of years, there are a gaggle of UK based bands who are making what could be described as mathy, arty, melodic alternative music, and for my money they are the best new bands making music anywhere right now. No matter what you call it, these bands are best thing happening right now across all real and made up music genres.

At a basic level, the bands seem like mostly trained and highly competent musicians, with solid chops and capability that stop short of Prog Rock stuff, but air out well beyond your basic lo-fi, tin can, stripped down indie stuff. They incorporate synth, dance and electronic elements here and there, but remain very much rooted in traditional bass/drums/guitars. The songs have hooks galore and are absolutely listenable, but the time signatures and vocal stylings are often quirky and odd enough that these bands don't fit nicely in any sort of mainstream rotation. Similar to Math Pop's more dense counterpart, these songs tend to be rhythmically tricky compared to straightforward pop stuff, without venturing into self indulgence or free form instrumental styles.

So I am pretty sure Math Pop is a thing, and many of those acts seem to be British, which technically means British Math Pop is also a thing. This technically means that if you have never heard of it before, then you should tell everyone I came up with it, because I am pretty sure I did.

These are not only 10 of my favourite Brit Math Pop bands, at least two of them (Wild Beasts and Everything Everything) are currently my favourite bands on the planet, period.  The tracks I chose highlight recent selections, as well as some classics from bands who have been around, in a few cases, for over 10 years now.

Everything Everything

From: Manchester
Best Album: Get To Heaven

Dutch Uncles

From: Manchester
Best Album: Out Of Touch, In The Wild

Wild Beasts

From: Kendal
Best Album: Present Tense


From: Oxford
Best Album: Total Life Forever


From: London
Best Album: War Room Stories

Field Music

From: Sunderland
Best Album: Tones of Town

Tom Vek

From: London
Best Album: Leisure Seizure

Bombay Bicycle Club

From: London
Best Album: So Long, See You Tomorrow


From: London
Best Album: Galore


From: London
Best Album: The Age of Fracture