Math and Physics Club - In This Together - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Math and Physics Club - In This Together

by Jim Cunnar Rating:9 Release Date:2016-07-02

It's interesting how regions breed certain sounds, and the U.S. Northwest has created a number of them over the years. Obviously, Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam changed rock forever in the early 1990s and Calvin Johnson's offbeat DIY K Records movement introduced us to the likes of Beck, Built to Spill and Modest Mouse.  In the last decade, Oregon and Washington have produced some outstanding and successful orchestral/intellectual pop, with the likes of The Decemberists and Death Cab For Cutie.  Math and Physics Club may not be as well known, but they are deserving of inclusion into that group. 

In This Together is a compilation of B-sides, EPs and hard to find material the band has released over their 12 year career. Started by long time friends Charles Bert and James Werle, MAPC songs are beautifully crafted pop gems, channeling the lyrical stylings of Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields and the jangly musical craftmanship of The Smiths and Belle & Sebastian. 

The songs are in reverse chronologic order, starting with a new track called 'Coastal California 1985', a piece which fits frighteningly well into the stable of other Matinee Records artists such as Northern Portrait and Bubblegum Lemonade.  'Across The Paper' is a lovely ukelele number, telling the story of a break-up but in a whip-smart way, with the lyric "I could of been just right for you, you just didn't know it yet" anchoring the sentiment. 

'Movie Ending Romance' is jangle pop at it's finest, a 2-plus minute piece of perfect pop music, Seattle's answer to Stuart Murdoch. 'Graduation Day' swells with Bert's litling voice and a string arrangement that doesn't overwhelm the musicianship. 'Sixteen and Pretty' is gorgeous and goosebump inducing,  a story of youth, love, and vulnerability told from a boys perspective. When the music stops and Bert sings "I'm kissing my first kiss, I'm wishing my first wish", you realize it's not the music that makes these songs so good, it's Berts voice.  

The final song, 'Weekends Away', is the oldest song on the album, but bookends the newest song 'Coastal California, 1985' spot on, with the lyric "we'll drive all night and let the miles stretch out behind" tying the album in a perfect bow.

Production of the 16 songs is amazingly consistent considering these songs span more than a decade, giving the collection a cohesiveness which makes it feel like a stand-alone album. Compilations can feel disjointed and can be a difficult listen, but In This Together is far from that.  This album is a career-spanning showcase of musical craftsmanship and emotionally intelligent lyrics with songs that should be anchoring an indie movie like "Juno" or "500 Days of Summer".  

Definitely add Math and Physics Club to your dinner party playlist. 

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