21 May 2016

Maths and the Moon / Familiar Strange (album review)

"Familiar strangely comes to greet me, I shake his hand but he’s a hologram" sings Andy Fielder, the lead singer of Southampton's very own Maths and the Moon on Boomerang, from their new record, Familiar Strange, and it's a pretty good summation of what's on offer on this record. Sure it's familiar, to both fans of the band and fans of the more surreal quotient of alternative rock, but everything's just a bit different to what you might expect. Twitching guitars, droning noise and songs with really challenging structures, it has all the ingredients of a record that deserves your ears.

Lead single Futurist and tracks like Magic are pop structured alt songs that march along, combining big rocky riffing with the odd dreamy bit of guitar and vocals that sound like they're ripped straight from a Ride record, in that they're just a bit too dreamy to belong, almost, on fairly hard riffing tracks like Futurist. But somehow it all works just fine.

But there are parts on Familiar Strange that they do away with the songs, and just set off at their own pace to a state of psychedelic euphoria. Amongst Trees starts off sounding like an acoustic Stones track for the first quarter of its duration, before trotting off into pastures untrodden as instruments get added to the mix, and the song ends in a 4 minute frenzy of instrumental 4/4 krautrock jamming. In The Eclipse is even better, a ten minute long song that doesn't even hint at being anything other than a slow-rising, noisy bit of NEU! worship with noisy guitars left, right and centre. It's at these points that Maths and the Moon really make sense as a band.

There are other highlights too; closer Psych Seeing has these big, crunchy shoegazing guitars, and The Collector is a really spacey, intimate singer-songwriter type track that mixes acoustic guitars with sinister droning feedback. This album's just a really diverse mix of noise, rock and surreal psychedelia, and well, I think it deploys the psychedelia most effectively, but despite the fact it is stylistically all over the place, Familiar Strange is a cohesive record that does a really quite prolific live band a lotta justice on wax.


Words: Calum Cashin