Review Summary: At the core, The Main Drag are serious about what they do, but cloak themselves in a veil of enthusiasm that makes it seems like they're just having a joke. It works wonders.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
The Main Drag have found mainstream success in two places:
1. Rock Band
2. The Guild
The title song off of their second album's chorus features the line, "You tell me the Cake is a lie". If you hadn't worked it out yet, the link here is video games. Considering all these things, you would expect this band to be jokey video game nerds who make music for fun and enjoyment. Just listen to songs like 'What's your favourite Dinosaur?' and 'Dove Nets'. If those songs don't bring smiles to your face fair enough, but you can't deny they tried to.
Many people who have heard of this band will have heard 'A Jagged Gorgeous Winter' from Rock band rather than anywhere else, considering Rock Band is considered the best music related game on the market and has sold well enough to have two sequels made. The song in question on the game is different to the one on the album, with an added drum break and extra guitars and vocals at the outro. People who have heard this song will most likely have their first opinion of the band as 'Quirky indie pop kids making use of a trumpet and synths to make their song stand out, but still enjoyable and fun none-the-less'. Some may go on to listen to the song on YouTube and notice the music video pays tribute to Calvin and Hobbs, with the Singers dressed in their costumes respectively and the rest of the band as snowmen in a winter wonderland dancing about.
This is part of the fun side of The Main Drag.
Now we move to the Main Drag from a different perspective, being that of a viewer of 'The Guild'. During the last episode of 'The Guild', another song by The Main Drag is played. This time it is the slow, emotional, moving 'Love during Wartime'. Considering this is a song about (you guessed it) love during wartime, the song was never likely to be quirky and happy. The Main Drag (if they were well known) would not be known for their great lyrics. The majority do not make much sense, though are still fun to sing along to. However the repeated lyric, "We all know fighting's crazy" easily gets across the sad nature of this song. First opinion of the band from this song: "Well thought through, and interesting. Deeper then most other Indie-Pop Groups."
The former of these two groups will be most surprised when they listen to this album. 'Yours as fast as Mine' is by no means the album anyone would expect by listening to 'A Jagged Gorgeous Winter'. It isn't even the album anyone would expect from listening to 'Love during Wartime'. The Main Drag are not the completely jokey band most would expect them to be. The Main Drag manage to balance enthusiasm and fun with serious musicianship, and boy do they do it well.
The album starts with 'How we'd look on paper'. This is a song showing the mixture of serious musicianship and a band that are having fun in what they do. Featuring Guitars (With a variety of different delay and reverb effects) trumpets and impressive drumming, this song easily starts to show off The Main Drag's musical capabilities. This song has no distinct chorus, but has a section in the middle which stands out from the previous verses. This starts with the trumpet and drums on their own, working in unison to create an upbeat fanfare that leads into the main part of the middle section. Instruments collide in a harmonious mass of noise with driving drums, fan-faring trumpets and emotional sub-par vocals (Though the vocals are not a bad thing). This is one of two things The Main Drag are especially good at. The other being the use of less popular stringed instruments.
This leads well onto the next track, 'Swine Houses'. Though it starts off in the familiar Main Drag style, it quickly progresses into a cello based mid-section with well fitting electronic drums at interludes in the song. It then moves onto an all more lighter ending with repeated shouts of "Yours as fast as mine!" and staccato keyboard notes, adding more instruments and backing vocals as it goes along, and then removing them as quickly as they came. This is the first track on the album to show the more musically qualified side of The Main Drag.
Following on into the next track, we arrive at the all time favourite, 'A Jagged Gorgeous Winter'. There is not much to say about this song which hasn't been said already. However, it should be noted that this is not the same version as on Rock Band. It is not as upbeat with the guitar riff at the end, instead replaced by a sustained synth chord. This makes the song end more abruptly as well. It also misses out the drum break just after the second chorus. Listening through the album for the first time, this would be about the time listeners realise that The Main Drag aren't as completely happy as they first thought, and added to this song making it happier for the sole purpose of being on Rock Band and appealing to a wider audience.
The next track is another favourite, 'Love during Wartime'. This is not only one of the more accessible songs on the album; it is also very well produced and put together. The song itself follows quite a simple tune and beat. However, there are a lot of little touches added to this song which make it so much better. There are various points where there is an echoed drum pattern added in, at the start of the second verse a hand being slid down a keyboard can be heard. At the end of phrases in the song an electronic drum roll is heard. The three best bits though are during the chorus. In the background the cellos play sustained melancholic chords while an electronic drum pattern which almost sounds like patches of static play to accompany. Over the top of this, a guitar riff plays and the trills away into the end of the chorus, making the song so much better then it needed to be.
The next two songs, 'Car Windows' and 'Montana' are both guitar focused tracks. They both differ a lot though. Car Windows is a soft, melodic track, with only guitar and vocals for the first half of the song. At the halfway point, cellos and a trumpet can be heard accompanying a simple drum pattern. Then it stops for a brief trumpet interlude when it suddenly restarts into a big sound featuring all instruments played to their full potential, just like the mid-section of 'How we'd look on paper'.
Montana also starts with guitar and vocals for the first half of the song. This time it has a darker sound though. It also progresses differently, opting for the sound of wind through a ghost town. Even though the rest of the song is quite repetitive, it still has it's perks. There is a high note using harmonics on what sounds like a guitar played every so often followed by a sudden rush of wind which is quite effective, and the guitar does a lot of different melodies throughout the song, though all in the same key, which add a bit of variety to it.
After these two 'break' tracks, which are more relaxed than such others as 'A Jagged Gorgeous Winter', we come to the most energetic two tracks on the album, namely 'What's your favourite dinosaur?' and 'Dove nets'. 'What's your favourite dinosaur?' (From now on referred to as Wyfd) is definitely the more fun of the two. It even borrows a trumpet section from the Jurassic park theme music. This is another song which showcases the drummer’s boundless energy, though it is mainly focused around the trumpets standing out over the rest of the song. This is probably the most likable song on the album for the wider audience.
'Dove Nets' is also happy and upbeat, but it is calmer than 'Wyfd'. It is also quite simply composed in comparison to some of the other tracks on the album. However, the cute backing vocals and major tone of the song get along with the simplicity of the song. It does feel at times however like it is stealing from other songs like 'Wyfd' and from the chorus of 'A jagged Gorgeous Winter.' This is another very likable song though.
'Taking apart a Gigantic Machine' (Taagm) is the calmest song on the album. Though not the main part of the song, the drumming has the most complex part of this song, which is quite a feat considering how calm the song is. It's easy to get carried away with this song. At the end of the verses, you can easily melt when the singer says, "We're marching through September/But the corners of your eyes are smiling". These aren't even amazing lyrics, but during the calm of the song, the feel and emotion created makes it seem like they are. It speeds up towards the end, incorporating a violin melody and changed drum pattern with added backing vocals, but it still remains calm and enjoyable to relax to.
The final two songs are the most striking on the album. 'Even Seconds' and 'Goodnight Technologist'. Both rely on cellos and violins to give them their striking sound. Even Seconds has a major problem throughout; it always sounds distant. It's easy to drift off into thought during the song and miss out on its brilliance, as this is one of the best songs on the album (in my opinion). The intro uses strong piano chords with melodies from the piano a guitar used in between. It always has some form of guitar or piano line playing at the front or back of the song. This continues for most of the song before hitting a break halfway through, which slowly builds up into distorted guitar chords and the big climax of the song. Unfortunately, you need to listen closely to get the full effect of this, as per the problem of the song sounding very distant.
'Goodnight Technologist' is a lot like 'Love during Wartime'. The underlying tune and beat of the song are quite simple. However, there are lots of little bits added in that make the song better than it should be. The song revolves around acoustic guitar chords and keyboard chords for most of the song, with the occasional sustained note on a cello. The drums start with a complex electronic beat about a third of the way into the song, and then switch to a simple snare hit every beat. At this point, the cello and violin are creating an emotional backing melody with the snare drum crashing over them with the addition of a crash cymbal and bass drum about halfway through. Then the singer starts singing his heart out. "I CAN'T SEE WHAT'S GOING ON!". The pure amount of emotion in these six words is phenomenal. The instruments all come to a climax at the same time in a cacophony of noise which filters down until you can just hear a single acoustic guitar, playing the last few notes into the song. And that is how it ends. There could be no better way of it ending.
I am giving this album a five. This album has its errors, but they massively overshadowed by the musical prowess of the rest of it. The Main Drag have managed to get the right level of fun and enthusiasm into their album without spoiling the musical side of it too much. The composition of each song is better then it needs to be. The lyrics may be nonsensical, but this isn't a bad thing, and the pure emotion portrayed through them makes this album wonderful. It is surprising that this band hasn't reached any vaguely major mainstream success, considering their success through Rock Band and The guild. That doesn't matter though. What matters is that this album is a genius piece of work from a small time band. Who knew video game nerds had it in them?