Math and Physics Club - In This Together

matcd076  /  June 2016
Math and Physics Club - In This Together
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Math and Physics Club - In This Together

matcd076  /  June 2016

Longtime fans of Pacific Northwest indie darlings Math and Physics Club know the band has never stashed away their lesser material on EPs and b-sides. Some would argue that many of their best songs over the past decade have appeared on exclusive EPs and vinyl-only singles, which is why this collection of non-album tracks plays like one of the band’s finest full length albums.

The songs here are presented in reverse chronological order, starting with the stunning new track ‘Coastal California 1985’ that finds the band in fine form with its chiming guitars and swelling harmonies. The album continues without missing a beat, winding through several unreleased and hard-to-find tracks from recent years, including a soft and sweet acoustic arrangement of ‘Do You Keep a Diary’ that turns the tables on the electropop version that originally appeared on the 2007 ‘Baby I’m Yours’ EP.

The album concludes with tracks from their beloved and out-of-print first two EPs, with the classic jangle of ‘Movie Ending Romance’ kicking off a relentlessly cracking set of pop that, when presented together this way, serves to highlight the band’s remarkable first year.

Math and Physics Club currently hails from Seattle and Olympia and other parts of the Pacific Northwest. They appeared to burst onto the scene in 2005 with their debut EP ‘Weekends Away’ that garnered international attention, but in reality the band had been taking shape in the hearts and basements of childhood friends Charles Bert (vocals) and James Werle (guitar) since the mid-1990s. Never in a hurry, it took nearly a decade before they found Ethan Jones (bass), Kevin Emerson (drums), and Saundrah Humphrey (violin) to complete the lineup, but it was worth the wait.

An essential release for Math and Physics Club completists and the perfect starting point for new fans, ‘In This Together’ comes in a handsome eco-wallet featuring photos from the band’s 10-year history and liner notes by Sean Tollefson from Tullycraft.

  1. Coastal California 1985
  2. It Must Be Summer Somewhere
  3. Across The Paper
  4. Our Own Ending
  5. The Sound Of Snow
  6. Do You Keep A Diary
  7. In This Together
  8. Baby I'm Yours
  9. Movie Ending Romance
  10. White and Grey
  11. Graduation Day
  12. Love, Again
  13. When We Get Famous
  14. Nothing Really Happened
  15. Sixteen and Pretty
  16. Weekends Away


Math and Physics are BACK, if on a retro tip (but with some added newness for extra spice). This chocolate box – a glorious confection spread over sixteen tracks - whirls us back through time right from fresh-for ‘16 cut “Coastal California, 1985” via a heavenly host of mislaid M&PC rarities through to stunners from their very first Matinée Recordings EPs, delivering a stern reminder that this is a band who have been wowing the zowee out of us for more than 10 years now. And hell, we’re always happy to succumb, because in our humble opinion, nobody does this kind of thing better. "Coastal California, 1985" starts as "Jimmy Jimmy" (had a Polaroid?) but soon assumes a typically charming janglist mantle. It's one of the Club's finest compositions yet, transmuting into an unapologetically wide(r)screen sound and a refrain you'll be humming for days on end, feeling PROPER West Coast even as you traverse the paltry glamour of the Balls Pond Road in the drizzle. Had it been a single, it would be one of this blooming year's best. The tracklist then scatters lost gems everywhere, pearls like "It Must Be Summer Somewhere" (from a Dufflecoat/Jigsaw split 7" with Monnone Alone, it irresistibly tangles early St. Christopher with the equally wet-behind-the-ears McCarthy circa "I Am A Wallet", albeit that Malcolm Eden never sang about girls in bikinis, unless I missed something seismic); the pint-sized pulchritude of "The Sound Of Snow" (as if Morrissey & Marr wrote a ballad for the Pines); or the delectable, Field Mice-confessional of "Our Own Ending". Listening to the full decade of M&PC arrayed within these grooves, albeit a selection that eschews their excellent trio of full-lengths, it feels like the frequent early Smiths influences subside a little in their later music, but there is still a gorgeous constant - right from the first - and that's their SOUND - oh, "that smooth, sultry Seattle sound" as John Peel would have called it with a grin and a glint in his eye, had he only had the opportunity - a great, crisp wave of POP, of guitar chimes weaved with cascading melodies and brocade embellishments, repped here not just by the terrific A-sides of "Movie Ending Romance", "Baby I'm Yours" or "Weekends Away" (yup, "you've got your baggage / and I've got mine" still sounds so sweetly sinister to our ears) but by the soothing tones of the songs that surrounded them, equally deft trinkets like "Nothing Really Happened" or "When We Get Famous". Not to mention that softest of soft spots that we will always have for "Love, Again". Indeed, our only reservation about "In This Together" is that we always get a bit worried that comps like this might herald a band break-up; signify that moment when our heroes start to go all "retrospective" on us, (ooh, but for good measure, here's a retrospective we did on them) as a way of closing the chapter before they disband and go solo / become hermits / get into drum & bass instead / go off to run ostrich farms (although in fairness, that was only Terminator X). Please, please, please (as another combo might have had it), let that not be so. Guys, don't you leave it there - we'll follow you almost anywhere.   --In Love With These Times...
Anyone looking for a North American equivalent of the Lucksmiths or Belle and Sebastian between the years 2005 and 2015 would have found a contender in the Pacific Northwest's Math and Physics Club. Formed by the duo of Charles Bert and James Werle when they were kids in school, it took a few years before they were ready to unleash their tenderly melodic, lyrically sweet and incisive sound on the world. Released in 2005, their first two EPs, Weekends Away and Movie Ending Romance, were near-perfect indie pop gems featuring truly lovely songs that married Bert's earnest vocals with jangling guitars and sprightly rhythms. Most of the songs from those two records are collected on the career-spanning set In This Together, released in 2016 by longtime home Matinée Recordings and U.K. label Fika Recordings. They sound just as pleasant and fresh a decade later. Also included are songs from their 2007 EP Baby I'm Yours and an acoustic version of the EP's "Do You Keep a Diary"; non-LP B-sides "The Sound of Snow" and "Across the Paper"; a handful of unreleased songs; and a newly recorded track, "Coastal California, 1985," that ranks with their best moments from the past decade. Hopefully it means the band will be making more music to add to its discography soon. Until that happens, this collection of Math and Physics Club's earliest work and some choice rarities works as a reminder of how good they were, how at their best they actually came quite close to being the next Lucksmiths or B&S.   --All Music Guide
'In This Together' is basically a round-up of the band's early EPs and B-sides, but a corking new track, 'Coastal California, 1985' that opens this essential compilation, proves that the band’s songwriting has progressed without losing any of the charm that made them such a wonderful prospect when they appeared on the scene in 2005 with a debut EP entitled 'Weekends Away'. The track listing interestingly starts with the newer songs and works back to the aforementioned debut, but such is the quality of the sixteen tracks that make up this record that you could begin and end it anywhere. For those unenlightened to the delights of Math and Physics Club this is the perfect starting point as, unlike lesser bands, they have not held back their better songs for LPs and have instead packed every EP with ace-ness and sneaked little gems onto B-sides. Musically, the band have clearly been raised on a diet of the finest indie bands and are not ashamed to wear their influences proudly on their chests (which is not a bad thing here). The Smiths/Morrissey shine brightly on 'When We Get Famous”, 'Graduation Day' and 'Nothing Really Happens', while Belle and Sebastian certainly infuse both the title track and 'Baby I’m Yours'. There’s also a nod to Jens Lekman on 'Sixteen And Pretty' and 'Across the Paper', but it is the songs that aren’t as easily traceable that leave the biggest mark such as 'Do You Keep A Diary?', 'The Sound of Snow' and 'Coastal California, 1985', all of which are pure joy. If like me, you have worn out your Lucksmiths records, then this album is definitely one for you. Indeed 'Weekends Away' not only steals its title from the opening line of the Lucksmiths’ 'Southernmost”, but also takes inspiration from their classic 'A Year of Driving Languorously'. I’ve not even got round to mentioning probably one of Math and Physics Club’s best loved songs – the sweet jangle of 'Movie Ending Romance', but I want to get out into the sunshine, wind the windows down and drive down leafy country lanes heading to a forgotten sandy cove with this album as my soundtrack. So far this is easily the best compilation album of the year and quite possibility the only one you’ll need in 2016.   --Pennyblack Music
I fully admit, there have been times where I have listened to a new band based entirely on their name, and that was precisely the case when I came across Seattle band Math and Physics Club. It also helped that I loved the title of their album at the time: I Shouldn't Look As Good As I Do. I was quickly won over by their charming, twee indie-pop and songs like "We're So DIY" and "Love or Loneliness" and became a fan. Flash forward to now, when the band is releasing a comprehensive 16-track B-sides and rarities collection called In This Together, songs that have gone unreleased from the bands ten-plus year span. It also includes a brand new song "Coastal California 1985" highlighting the band's bouncy guitars and swelling harmonies. Now I'm just hoping they finally venture across the border for an overdue Vancouver show sometime.   --3am Revelations (Song Of The Day)
Maths and physics - probably my two worst subjects at school. My Dad was so disappointed. I thought I'd give this one a listen as it came in from Matinée Recordings who I became aware of when they released new music by The Popguns awhile back, and I've enjoyed the other indie pop bands they've sent in like The Hermit Crabs and Strawberry Whiplash. Similarly so here - it's pretty clean and light so if you like your indie pop a little rougher around the edges then this might not be for you but they write good songs and have a nice jangle to the guitars. There's something very Belle & Sebastian, both lyrically and in the arrangements, about songs like "In This Together" and "Movie Ending Romance, while the influence of The Smiths is pretty clear on "Graduation Day" and a couple of other songs towards the end. It seems this is a compilation of old songs (in reverse chronological order) but it works well as a standalone album for someone, like me, who hasn't heard them before. Worth a go if you like this kind of light and melancholy indie pop.   --Collective Zine
Subtitled ‘EPs, B-Sides, Rarities and Unreleased Songs 2005-2015’, this white vinyl LP collects rare and up-till-now unreleased songs produced by this Pacific Northwestern band in the first ten years of their existence. The twist is that the songs are in reverse chronological order so it goes from the sweetly melodic REM-style janglepop-with-sumptuous-harmonies of ‘Coastal California, 1985’ back to the Sarah Records inspired ‘Weekends Away’ from their debut EP (a different kind of jangle). Between those points you hear a indiepop band, inspired by (working backwards) The Lucksmiths, the Smiths, Belle & Sebastian and the Field Mice, with Charles Bert’s voice sounding compellingly Morrissey-esque. That voice fits the literate and thoughtful lyrics. They might be concerned with the romantic ignorance of youth - “what did we know? We were just sixteen and pretty” (‘Sixteen And Pretty’) – but they’re expressed without any of the tongue-tied inarticulacy of the teenager. The Lucksmiths-like ‘Our Own Ending’ packs an ocean of melancholy within its grooves, swept along by waves of gloriously downbeat violin. And imagine a male analogue of Amelia Fletcher lyrically, producing twisted love songs free of cliché, as on ‘Movie Ending Romance’. Dispelling the gloom though is the joyous indiepoppy ‘It Must Be Summer Somewhere’ with its tremulous guitar and sun-chasing: “Rock Lobster on the radio…those girls in the wild bikinis…” The band has a geeky name, and the songs can stray into a sort of fey indie Belle & Sebastian stereotype with titles to match (‘Do You Keep A Diary?’) but there’s also something stirring and anthemic in the best of these sweetly melodic, heartfelt and life-affirming songs that keeps you hooked on every word and chord change. It’s pop without cynicism, familiar in its sound but attractive all the same.   --Sounds XP
Math and Physics Club are a Pacific Northwest treasure. Their brand of jangling, melancholy guitar pop echos the work of The Lucksmiths, The Go-Betweens, and Belle and Sebastian, but with varying shades of attitude and nerdy self-awareness they manage to create a distinctive sound. Their songs are airy and melodic while still sounding focused and sincere. In the past eleven years they have released several LPs, as well as singles and EPs. A number of their best songs were released only on singles and EPs which are no longer available, which has made appreciation of the band difficult for all but the most devoted fan who collected all of their work as released. However, Matinée Recordings and Fika Recordings have stepped in with In This Together to help indie pop fans complete their collection. The compilation collects Math and Physics Club songs that were released on EPs or singles, but never appeared on an album, and presents them in reverse chronological order. Although it isn't billed as a greatest hits album, it comes close to serving as one and should become a favorite album for old and new fans alike. I've had it on repeat for several days now, and it is like having a welcome old friend drop in for an extended stay. Break out the good wine!   --When You Motor Away
Please strike me. I’ve never heard of Math and Physics Club. From the sleeve and the use of the word 'math(s)', I had them down as some kind of emo/math rock group but they are nothing of the sort, instead they are pop guys in the vein of the Clientele or Belle and Sebastien. They’ve presented this collection of B sides and rarities in reverse chronological order which allows us to enjoy a new track the swoonsome and harmonic ‘Coastal California 1985’ before we get in to the nitty gritty. Like many bands from the West Coast of America they seem to enjoy three things - 1) K Records, 2) the summer and 3) having a pretty good time. The album is packed full of jaunty and perky compositions that sound happy even when the band are feeling sad especially on ‘Our Own Ending’ where they wake up alone in bed pouring tea for one. God that’s awful that anyone should have to go through that. They know their way around a haunting post C86 melody though especially on ‘Sound of Snow’ which sits somewhere between Remember Fun and Bomb Pops and vies for the most obscure indie pop reference on these pages. They are as wet as a rainy weekend in Morecambe and occasionally it all gets too much and I want to tell them to just get over it but like Belle and Sebastien they write really nice cello drenched songs like the title track which makes you forgive them and want to give them a cuddle. If you miss how Belle and Sebastien used to sound before they went all shiny then this box of odds and sods is for you.   --Norman Records
I really love this band. I guess you can file them under indiepop, but I feel sometimes that that minimizes the band’s sound…you can simply label it great pop music…in my book. They’re working with Fika Recordings and Matinée to release a collection of rarities and b-sides, but also tossing out this brand new tune, as endearing and lovely as ever. A very limited vinyl edition will be released on June 24th, and this is your chance to fall in love with one of the greatest bands you might have overlooked. Enjoy this new one from Math and Physics Club, and be sure to grab In This Together.   --Austin Town Hall
This is a compilation of EPs and B-sides, and it also features a couple of new songs from Math and Physics club. Some of the songs compiled here are among my favourite songs of theirs, like “Sixteen and Pretty”, “Graduation Day” and “Movie Ending Romance”. A brilliant compilation from a brilliant band.   --Eardrums Music
Dieci anni di attività sono un periodo sufficientemente lungo per l’attività di una band che, raggiunto tale traguardo simbolico, può a ragione guardarsi indietro per cogliere analogie e differenze nel proprio percorso evolutivo. È ciò che devono aver pensato gli alfieri statunitensi dell’indie-pop Math And Physics Club, che hanno voluto celebrare il loro primo compleanno a due cifre con la musica con una raccolta di Ep, b-side e rarità disseminate nel corso della loro avventura artistica. Ne è scaturita una rassegna dai toni tutt’altro che autocelebrativi e dal contenuto tutt’altro che autoreferenziale, che getta un ponte tra presente e passato della band, con il piglio nostalgico endemicamente connesso all’immaginario indie-pop. “In This Together” non è certo una raccolta stantia, buona giusto per riempire lo spazio tra un album e l’altro, bensì un viaggio a ritroso nel repertorio della band, che si apre con il brano più recente, il brillante inedito “Coastal California, 1985” e da lì prosegue attraverso sorprendenti versioni acustiche (“Do You Keep A Diary”) e scanzonate chicche per inguaribili appassionati dell’agrodolce malinconia pop (“Our Own Ending”, “Baby I’m Yours”). La stessa platea non potrà che apprezzare di ritrovare nella raccolta i primi due Ep dei Math And Physics Club (“Weekends Away” e “Movie Ending Romance”, entrambi del 2005), che a distanza di un decennio grondano ancora di quell’immediatezza sbarazzina e di quei languori jangly che fin da subito hanno definito il profilo della band di Seattle. Eppure, non per questo “In This Together” può considerarsi destinata ai soli estimatori della band, anzi la sua godibilissima tracklist che unisce presente e passato rappresenta un’occasione per (ri)scoprirne il talento e comprendere come si sia affermata quale indiscutibile eccellenza indie-pop americana.   --Music Won't Save You