Art Contest, “Math Major” LP

cover - art contest math majorPart of writing about music means there's a constant quest for something new and interesting. The downside to that is finding so many bands that do things differently, but not very well. So, when yone finds a band like Art Contest, it's all the more rewarding. I can't stop playing this album. Seriously, it's been a good long while since I've heard an album as brilliantly sequenced as this. Each track leads into the next so fucking well that you'll just keep listening, waiting to hear what comes next. And then, because you know what'll come next, you listen to it again, and then maybe a third time to check and see what you might've missed. Repeat as necessary. The band works a mesemerizing set of styles simultaneously -- there's high, arpeggiated guitar that almost sounds Soweto, which will lapse into dirge-like breakdowns. Drumming can be laconic, or can be metronomic lockstep. Vocals yelp, croon, and speak softly. The success of Math Major lies entirely in the fact that Art Contest moves effortlessly from one plan of attack to another. The energetic, caffeinated blast of pep that is opener "Banana Boat" is so very different from "Bedtime," whose name couldn't be more apt, with sleepwalking, shimmering guitars, but they're all obviously of the same band. As the album continues on, the band alternates music that's just absurdly pretty, like "WAV" with HELLA-style workouts such as "Misty Flip," working towards songs that manage to combine shiny, dreamy beauty with sharply angular pieces, especially on the likes of "Tripp Pants" and album closer "Sonic Level 4."