The Cubists – Mechanical Advantage

The Cubists - Mechanical Advantage

The Cubists - Mechanical Advantage

The Cubists’ Mechanical Advantage, opens with “Fire In The Back Yard”, a poppy alt-rock tune that starts all sleek and gritty like a track off a Spoon record and smoothly shifts halfway through to punchy and textured guitar-rock like an early Radiohead song. This is followed by the soft and airy synth lines and shoegazing guitar swirls of “The Orchestra Breathes”, that wouldn’t be out of place on a Deerhunter disc. The effects-laden and hazy electronics of “Bad Time” follows next with an abstract but soothing song structure, sounding similar to England’s Hood, before blasting to life thanks to the gusto of a Pink Floyd-like guitar solo. So goes the opening three tracks of this Augusta, Georgia-based psych-rock band’s debut album.

And so go the remaining six songs. From the driving punk-pop rhythms of “Lights Out” to the melancholic mist of “Mechanical Advantage” to the jagged bass lines of Reggae-tinged “She’s Got Blood” to the acoustic singer-songwriter demeanor of “Best Friends” to the haunting, experimental sound effects on “Redux” to the cheerful synth-pop of closer “Hallelujah Hollywood”, The Cubists run the table of indie-rock hybrid genres over the course of the disc’s 51 minutes.

But while it’s scope may be wide-ranging, Mechanical Advantage is hardly an inconsistent and rambling affair. At the core of each track is an experimental psych-rock/shoegaze aesthetic and an ethos to conjure up a compelling eddy of sounds that please the mind and satisfy the soul, no matter what the stylistic outcome. Even the vocals are tailored to fit within the scheme of each song’s design. Whether it’s an angst-ridden snarl or a hushed, reverb-drenched drone or a smooth pop tone, Noel Brown’s voice conforms naturally to enhance each song, occasionally adding the right punch or providing a hooky melody, while his lyrics explore both despair and hope.

The Cubists’ music may contain multiple shifts between different styles and influences, but they have hit on a signature sound that is also somewhat of a hybrid. With a taste of intoxicating, shoegazing drones and swells of hallucinatory indie-style beats, and with a thirst for adventure and pop experimentation, the integrated and complex sound is delivered in various arrangements with a multitude of instruments and effects. It is difficult to absorb all at once and it may take some open-mindedness and a few attentive spins before the brilliance of this mischievous, clever and diverse indie-rock album takes hold, but it is well worth the effort.

Recommended Tracks: “Fire In The Back Yard”, “The Orchestra Breathes” and “She’s Got Blood”

Recommended If You Like (RIYL): Deerhunter, Thee More Shallows, The Comas and The Black Heart Procession

The Cubists:

Team Clermont: