Math and Physics Club - Lived Here Before
Math and Physics Club - Lived Here Before
Math and Physics Club’s fourth studio album ‘Lived Here Before’ features all the carefully constructed pop handicraft we’ve come to expect from these Pacific Northwest lads, but also shows the band stretching confidently into new territory at a stage when many bands would simply be retreading the same paths.
Working from a makeshift studio in the wilds of Snohomish, Washington, with fabled grunge producer Chris Hanzsek (Soundgarden, Green River), the band recorded eleven songs over four days in the company of Douglas firs and Swainson’s thrushes. Longtime fans will still recognize the band’s upbeat sound set against often bittersweet storytelling, but there’s also a darker, more world-weary undercurrent that feels earned with the passage of time, or perhaps as a reflection of the times themselves.
Lead track ‘Threadbare’ sets the tone with its Shins-esque beat and close-up intimacy, followed by a powerful push-me-pull-you between the verses and choruses, sweet and sad. ‘Marblemouth’ is an unabashed Britpop rocker with chiming guitars and driving bass, while ‘Broadcasting Waves’ bursts in with an infectious groove that serves as a backdrop to searching for love across fields and open oceans.
‘The Pull of the Tides’ builds slowly to crescendo and back again, evoking bands like The Ocean Blue and The Softies along the way, and setting up one of the album’s more subtle tracks, ‘Like Cinnamon,’ which flips the dynamic between music and lyrics with its brooding backdrop. In a surprise, the band includes its first instrumental with a slinky tango titled ‘Falling for It’ providing a wink and a nod to early REM interludes like ‘Underneath the Bunker.’
‘Dear Madeline’ is vintage Math and Physics Club with intertwining guitars and soft brushes beautifully set against one of the band’s more poignant vignettes. The mood shifts to agitation with ‘Take a Number’ which paints a more insidious type of darkness, fueled by its dueling guitar riffs and percussive flourishes. The album’s title is also pulled from one of its lyrics.
‘Past and In Between’ whips things into a lather with its groovy bass and Motown beat that dodges in and out of piano, organ, and big, layered harmonies of oohs and ahhhs. But the final resolve is left to hang in the air, which smartly sets up perhaps the album’s high point, ‘All the Mains are Down,’ which rips along with chiming guitars, piano, and three-part harmonies that bring to mind early REM (one of the band’s lesser noted influences).
The album closes in characteristic economy with ‘Drive to You’ which features an arrangement stripped down to simply two guitars and a lilting melody, accented with subtle organ. It’s a fitting end note that reaches back to the band’s earlier days and leaves us feeling a bit more sweet than bitter, which seems just about right.
Housed in a handsome six-panel eco-wallet with sleeve design by the band’s own Ethan Jones, ‘Lived Here Before’ is a magnificent addition to the Math and Physics Club discography.
- Broadcasting Waves
- The Pull Of The Tides
- Like Cinnamon
- Falling For It
- Dear Madeline
- Take A Number
- Past And In Between
- All The Mains Are Down
- Drive To You
Upon the release of 2018's Lived Here Before, it's been five years since the last Math and Physics Club album, but all the hallmarks of their sound remain intact. The required amount of guitar jangle, sweet indie pop melody, tender and true lyrics, and Charles Bert's wistfully sincere singing are all on display, and the band delivers a few songs that stand with its best work. The gently rumbling "Threadbare," the warm-hearted "Broadcasting Waves," and the insistent "All the Mains Are Down" are all first-rate examples of the best kind of indie pop, when the music, words, and voices work together to wrap the listener in the audio equivalent of a long, strong hug. The record is more than just a few great songs, though. Like on their last album, Our Hearts Beat Out Loud, the band continues to expand its sound, becoming more muscular than ever and stretching the songwriting a bit. Tracks like the circular "The Pull of the Tides" and the almost C&W "Take a Number" wouldn't have appeared on an early MAPC album, and Lived Here Before is enriched by their presence. The rest of the record has a fuller, more dynamic sound than the previous album too, and when the songs rock, like on "Past and in Between," they have some real punch. The ballads like "Dear Madeline" also have a real echoing beauty that the band has previously hinted at but can fully realize now. Credit the production by indie rock veteran Chris Hanzsek for the improved sound, the band for the expansive arrangements, and Bert for coming up with MAPC's strongest set of songs to date. Put it all together and it's the best record the band has done and some really fine indie pop that shows the long-running style has some life left in it yet. --All Music Guide
In 2005 I was listening to the radio (we all remember radio, don't we?) and I heard a sweet, captivating and thoroughly twee gem titled "Weekends Away" by a Seattle area band named Math and Physics Club. I was sufficiently impressed, despite my skinflint proclivities, that I went out and bought the four-track single. Not only did I play the hell out of the songs, but -- and this is confession time -- I ripped off the band by including the closing song, "When We Get Famous" as the final track on the soundtrack I was asked to make for the memories video and slideshow for the graduating class of the local high school (and a great soundtrack it was, opening with shots of the seniors at double-time speed coming in to the high school as freshmen over Ballboy's "You Can't Spend Your Whole Life Hanging Around With Arseholes" and closing with sentimental photos of the seniors over "When We Get Famous". So yes, Charles, James, Kevin and Ethan, I used your song without asking. But there was no money involved and maybe it helped sell a few copies of Weekends Away. At the time, I didn't know whether I'd ever hear of the band again, but looking at my music library last night I realize that I have every album the band has released since then and, not surprising given those circumstances, I celebrate every time I learn of a new M&PC LP coming our way. The latest is Lived Here Before which is released tomorrow via Fika Recordings in UK/Europe and Matinee Recordings in North America. The new album finds the four childhood friends true to their jangling, indie pop hearts, but with flourishes that take them outside the lines of their past work in very satisfying ways. So here there is a bit more rock muscle, a bit of drone, a touch of country (the affecting "Dear Madeline"), delightful percussive forays and an overall sense of dynamism that blows out the walls of any "twee" box one might be tempted to put them in. And credit to Chris Hanzsek, famed producer of grunge bands Soundgarden and Green River for capturing it all wonderfully. But the core of this band's genius are songs that meld endearing melodies with lyrics that hit home, and the eleven songs of Lived Here Before are the strongest overall statement the band has made to date. They have always had the knack for concise and interesting expressions, whether sweet or bittersweet, and are not shy about interjecting self-deprecatory humor. However, the added years have provided a well-earned depth of experiences to layer into the sweet-sounding confections. The result is an album that is richly rewarding for any indie pop fan. --When You Motor Away
Melancholy indie guitar pop here from Olympia and Seattle and a band that has been around for just over a decade now - this being their fourth album. It's all kind of light and airy with lyrical themes that are wistful and nostalgic with plenty of bittersweet lyrics about regret and disappointment. The Go-Betweens may be the most obvious comparison but there's something very-Real Estate about the guitar on tracks like "The Pull of the Tides". The real highlights for me on this one are the last two songs - "All The Mains Are Down" is a smart pop song and "Drive To You" is a lovely, restrained track that rounds things out nicely. There's something in the riff on that last song that reminds of "Song For Whoever" by the way. --Collective Zine
On Math and Physics Club’s new album ‘Lived Here Before’ we see the band stretch confidently into new territory while featuring all the carefully constructed pop handicraft we’ve come to expect from these Pacific Northwest lads. Working from a makeshift studio in the wilds of Snohomish, Washington, with fabled grunge producer Chris Hanzsek (Soundgarden, Green River), the band recorded eleven songs over four days in the company of Douglas firs and Swainson’s Thrushes. Longtime fans will still recognize the band’s upbeat sound set against often bittersweet storytelling, but there’s also a darker, more world-weary undercurrent that feels earned with the passage of time, or perhaps as a reflection of the “times” themselves. --The Big Takeover
Here’s the fourth full-length by this Pacific-Northwest band, formed by vocalist Charles Bert and guitarist James Werle, with Ethan Jones on bass, Kevin Emerson on drums, and Saundrah Humphrey on violin. The group first emerged on the international indie pop scene roughly 13 years ago, and these 11 tracks supplement their catalog without a hitch. Folks smitten with the jangle at the core of C86 and the output of Sarah Records will likely be chuffed, and the songs here are so well-conceived that comparisons to the Go-Betweens or Robert Scott’s work in The Bats are right on the money. But hey, if these comparisons leave you stumped, it’s a safe bet that if you dig The Shins and/or Luna, you’ll like this, too. --The Vinyl District
Feel like its been a slow start to 2018 for indiepop fans, but luckily it looks as if Math and Physics Club are ready to give us a cure. Today, the band shared 3 songs, 2 which we haven’t heard yet to tease their latest effort, Lived Here Before; its being released by Matinee in the US and Fika in Europe. The first thing I notice about the two new songs is that they carry a softer tone, almost akin to early Death Cab stuff. I think of the three songs we’ve gotten to hear, “Dear Madeline” is definitely the one keeping my attention this morning. I hear its cold out there, so hopefully this dosage of pop will keep you warm until its release on January 26th. --Austin Town Hall
Nonostante la raccolta “In This Together” (2016) ne avesse in parte temperato la quinquennale mancanza di un nuovo album vero e proprio, i Math And Physics Club si presentano al loro quarto disco senz’altro maturati e in parte trasformati nella loro vivace indole indie-pop. Superato il traguardo dei dieci anni di attività, la band di Seattle si è affidata al produttore Chris Hanzsek per finalizzare dal punto di vista del suono le canzoni che trovano spazio in “Lived Here Before”, registrate in uno studio distante dalla città, come alla ricerca di un’atmosfera e di un’ispirazione incontaminata. Il risultato sono undici brani che, senza smentire la vivace scorrevolezza della sua scrittura pop, ne orientano la fisionomia verso una maggiore consapevolezza tematica e di mood, alla quale corrisponde una parziale ridefinizione delle soluzioni sonore che la accompagnano. Permangono infatti solo sullo sfondo gli abituali punti cardinali dei Math And Physics Club, radicati in un raffinato lirismo pop che spaziava dagli Smiths ai Belle And Sebastian, appena ispessito dalla schiettezza elettrica dell’album precedente, sovrastato da un lato da una cornice “indie”, che rimanda piuttosto alle college band di inizio secolo, e dall’altro da uno spirito più riflessivo e malinconico, a tratti addirittura lievemente oscuro. Non mancano tuttavia tra i solchi di “Lived Here Before”, spunti di divertita leggerezza pop, tra i quali ricompaiono sbarazzino tracce jangly (“Take A Number”, “All The Mains Are Down”), tuttavia diluite tra sfumati echi wave (la breve “Falling For It”) e controllate pulsioni ritmiche allegate a un candore emo-core degno a tratti dei primi Death Cab For Cutie (“Marblemouth”, “Past And In Between”). A non mutare, in fondo, è pur sempre l’agrodolce leggerezza delle melodie della band di Seattle, consacrata magistralmente nel dimesso finale “Drive To You”, che in “Lived Here Before” segna la nuova tappa di una consapevolezza matura che non manca mai di continuare a scrivere un inesauribile racconto pop, che attraversa distanze geografiche e temporali, tra Inghilterra anni ’80 e odierna West Coast statunitense. --Music Won't Save You