I'm Sorry, but Our Foals is in Another Castle
So what in the blue hell is math pop anyway? Math rock is unconventional rhythms, experimental time signatures and complicated instrumentation. Pop is traditionally more accessible than rock, so to answer my question, math pop is unconventional, experimental and complicated. But easier to understand. Yeesh.
Three-piece We're No Heroes are something of an unconventional outfit to understand too. Based in Cardiff but formed in Chicago, a trio of more Welsh names you won't find. And while Luke Llewellyn, Michael Owen and Tom Collins assign lead vocal duties to each other, they also embrace the math pop moniker with "Quiet Colours" being a good example of the genre.
They do the gear changes within a track well, normally driven by Llewellyn's drums. Evident on the opener, 'Atlantic Hearts', the vocals fall away to a guitar driven slow coda from what was originally sounding like a Foals tribute band. Llewellyn's drumming comes into it's own on the standout track. 'Latitude' is a more ominous shade of math pop, with a wicked ninja attack of a gear change halfway through the song.
In fact, for a band so overtly driven by their guitars, it's in fact the drums that provide the graft on "Quiet Colours". The intro to 'Empty Beat' highlighting this quite nicely, fizzing sound effects giving the impression of a launch behind the guitars which they capitalise on nicely, creating a more intelligent version of the Wombats.
The vocals are the weakest part of this four-track, with shouts and attempted versions of singing akin to ugly splotches in a beautiful piece of art. This isn't necessarily a fault, with none of the three pretending they can sing Ave Maria. And while no-one is expecting them to, perhaps picking a singer and sticking to it is a better solution than the rock-paper-scissors method they seem to currently employ.
This isn't a bad EP at all. We're No Heroes actively embrace the math pop tag and there is more than an obvious nod to the likes of Foals and the mathier parts of Two Door Cinema Club. The big problem is that this isn't revolution or evolution. I completely accept that it's lazy writing to say it sounds a bit like Foals, but it really does.
On it's own, it's a fine effort, there's no skimping on production, the artwork is great, the band seem to be waiting in the wings for that next step. But in context, against a canvas of bands that have already tread the same path, it suffers a little. It isn't bad, or dated but it left me listening to it on repeat, looking for the differentiation that would have made this brilliant.