Review Summary: has anyone seen the duolingo owl recently? i have a proposition
Why doesn’t this website listen to Tricot much? The best band in the world lends itself to a whole bunch of platitudes and this-doesn’t-mean-anythingisms so even though the last skerrick of reviewing skill I have left has all but defenestrated itself off the Harukas 300 I still feel compelled to say shit like “my brain doesn’t understand what’s going on here but my body and my soul does” and “why isn’t there more whistled melodies in math rock?”
Tricot’s second album this year is a cohesive, wildly entertaining effort. Its outline looks like power-pop but it’s coloured in with rhythmic complexity and jazzy chord progressions enough that it stands out like a particularly scintillating diamond in a vault of more boring but no less authentic diamonds. The tricotness on display here is further augmented by a heretofore untapped level of ingenuity that prioritises memorable melodies and a faithfulness to good ideas where less experienced groups would fail to realise they’re onto something special, discarding it before it has a chance to lodge itself in the hippocampuses of nerds across the globe. By this I mean that Tricot recognise when they’ve come up with a stunning riff or groove and they let it unfold and spiral into three or four minutes of inimitable, unassailable math rock class. Lead single ‘Omae’ does this with its drum track; Yoshida Yusuke opens the record with an intense, stuttered march – laced with screeching guitar feedback – that doesn’t set you on the edge of your seat so much as it makes you forget you’re sitting on one, and then it ends right before its presence begins to feel overbearing. Agenai positions Hirohiro’s droning, fuzzy bass centre-stage before it's utilised as a platform for the rest of the band to exhale in unison. Ikkyu’s vocals here, too, drift around the mix like she’s just transcended her corporeal form. It’s beautiful. Shut up.
‘10’ is a celebration of Tricot’s tenth year as a band, and it feels appropriate that all four members take this opportunity to not only display their talents as individuals but show off how much they understand each other as musicians at a point this far along in their career. One thing I noticed is particularly prevalent on this release is how they move with each other – often splitting up in pairs to make it feel as though a song is actually two songs merging together to create one, perfectly harmonised mix, much like a good producer or DJ does (listening to this right after you listen to Neil Cicierega’s new album does not engender the whiplash one would think it does). In the second half of ‘Itazura’, Motifour’s cyclical guitar noodling is underscored by Hirohiro harmonising in a similar manner on the bass. They’re both playing in cursive while the drums boldly pummel away in a straightforward way that still fits the psychotically shifting time signatures. To me this means that when the whole band folds back into the same structure and the listener realises that the track has once again cohered into a striking piece of contemporary musical architecture, the payoff is amongst the most satisfying you can find in modern rock.
I think I’m supposed to be doing university work right now, exam season be damned, but I just wanted to stress that I am – consistently and without fail – impressed by how well this band manages the tightrope walk between technicality and euphony with aplomb and a sense that they are still having as much fun as they were when they set off ten years ago. Never mind the fact that Motifour’s skittish, guitar-neck ballet riffs are the reason I still go to band practice every week, never mind the fact that I want to learn Japanese solely to better comprehend what Ikkyu is singing about -- Tricot’s dedication to an experimentation that feels learned (rather than feeling like shit is blindly being thrown at a wall) is what makes them an inspiration as both a musician, and someone grasping at pieces of a disparate joie de vivre to get from one day to the next. Okay, it’s back to the ether for me.