Review Summary: Catchy, tight, abrasive and brief, Cancer perfectly captures the intensity of My Disco.
Allegedly named after a Big Black song and having much in common with the abrasive textures of Big Black frontman Steve Albini's various projects, Melbourne's My Disco are one of the most promising bands to come out of the math rock genre in recent times. While their earlier sound focused on complex time signatures and interesting song structures, their more recent work has seen them adopt a minimalist approach to songwriting. Cancer
is the first full length from My Disco and follows three earlier releases; two EPs and a split with New York screamo band Off Minor
As is both customary and necessary for the majority of successful Australian acts, My Disco
built their reputation and fanbase on the quality of their of their live show. Short, sharp, precise and utterly flawless, My Disco are truly and best experienced in a live context. That said, Cancer
is not at all unlike the experience of a My Disco show. Clocking in at just 25 minutes and with 8 songs, Cancer
gets straight to the point with its dissonant guitar riffs, catchy, angular basslines and strangely danceable but technical drumming. Bassist Liam Andrews contributes in vocals in a half spoken, half yelled technique, but they will regularly occur for only a few seconds of each song, usually consisting of little more than a couple of lines. Rather than being a band where the instruments exist to back up the vocalist, the vocals almost always feel like the least important element of the music. More often than not, the band are happy to consistently repeat a groove and stay locked into the rhythms they're playing for minutes before any instance of vocals will appear. Take opener "Perfect Protection", which simply repeats the same ridiculously catchy bassline for the entire three minutes with the dissonant guitar and tightly grooving drums jumping in and out. The song's vocals don't appear until the last 40 seconds of the song. What's most interesting about this approach to songwriting is that it never really gets boring, probably because the never waste any time; each song goes for only as long as it needs to and the album, being only 25 minutes long, says everything that it needs to say and doesn't bother to fill up space with anything unecessary.
As exemplified in the earlier releases from My Disco, this is obviously a band who know what they're doing musically. Cancer
is a much more restrained release than the band's earlier work, but it's not uncommon for different instruments to cut out during the songs and allow a single instrument time in the spotlight. Keeping with the theme of the album's title, each song has a very sterile, precise and clinical feel which is catchy and danceable, but never entirely pleasant. The production of the album is extremely dry and analog, allowing for the perfect amount of space between the instruments and keeping with sterile feel of the songs. Most of the direction of music comes from Liam Andrews' dominating bass, but what is clear about My Disco is that they are truly a band for which teamwork is crucial; each part depends on the existance of the other two and without one of the three parts contributing to the overall sound, the music would simply not work.
Never overstaying its welcome, Cancer
is the perfect length for My Disco to say what they need to say and then be done with it. Although the album would undoubtedly get boring and tired if it was, say, 40 or 50 minutes long, its 25 minutes ensure plenty of replay value and allow the listener to easily play it through 3 or 4 times in one sitting. Tight, focused, dancey and dissonant, Cancer
is a truly excellent release from a band who are surely going places.
Tight, angular feel
The non-existence of diversity may be off-putting, but this is mainly remedied with the short running time
Always Measure Want
Final Rating: 4/5