“I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.”
These Roots Grow Deep begins with a sample from Forrest Gump, and the quote really sets the stage for the album. If you’ve ever seen Forrest Gump, you know why the movie is so ubiquitous. Everything about the movie is relatable, and besides that, it’s all so profound. Gump is an instantly lovable narrator, and you share in his joys, his triumphs, but also his sorrows. When it comes to emotive hardcore, emotive is the key word. The main goal, above all else, is to portray emotion. And calculator’s These Roots Grow Deep does this perfectly. Much like Forrest Gump, you can feel every emotion swirling in the minds of this five-piece from California.
After the Forrest sample, a couple punk chords are bashed out and then a little bit of light guitar strumming, and then the screaming comes in. Sounding like a rawer Jeffrey Eaton (of Modern Life Is War) with a little less power, the vocals are excellent and manage to switch it up just enough throughout the album to keep it interesting. Whether he actually is screaming, or straddling the line between yelling and screaming, his raw sound is fantastic. The DIY production definitely helps his sound, as the rawness is of an almost live quality.
The band is a pretty standard emo outfit. With very melodic, slightly distorted guitars, and a few chords bashed out, and a competent rhythm section, calculator shouldn’t stand out from the rest of the pack. It’s a fact, they don’t sound any different from anything that’s already been done. But, somehow, they don’t scrape up some old relationships that didn’t work and call it emotion. They excel at making you feel, and that puts the ‘emo’ in ‘emotive hardcore.’ They make you feel everything they feel, and it can be a mess of feelings at times. At the end of “Paradise,” for instance, the listener is left partially numb from the two Donnie Darko samples, partially confused from all the tempo changes, and wholly overjoyed at the incredibly crafted song.
“Dr. Lilian Thurman: Do you feel alone right now?
Donnie: Oh, I dunno. I mean I’d like to believe I’m not but I just… I’ve just never seen any proof so I… I just don’t debate it anymore, you know? It’s like I could spend my whole life debating it over and over again, weighing the pros and cons and in the end I still wouldn’t have any proof so I just… I just don’t debate it anymore. It’s absurd.
Dr. Lilian Thurman: The search for God is absurd?
Donnie: It is if everyone dies alone.”
Donnie Darko, much like Forrest Gump, is an excellent movie. Much less well-known, sure, but still excellent. Both movies have an instantly relatable narrator. However, while Gump is dealing with the subjects of love, and war, Darko deals with the omnipresent topics of death, depression, and teenage angst. Somehow, both narrators fuse perfectly with calculator.
Musically and technically, calculator shows nothing you couldn’t get from some other emo band. However, the lyrics and the samples are what truly make the band. The lyricist has so many perfect moments it’s impossible to not feel something while listening to this. Donnie Darko and Forrest Gump would both be proud.