Like other bands featured on the blog previously, The Annoying take on a fully self-deprecating name but delivers something wholly unexpected. Given the arcane album name—by a band that bills itself “pretentious dorky rock”—it’s very easy to go into this with an open mind.
And an open mind you will need, because the album rarely spends more than a few minutes sounding like any one thing. Cubist Spheres/ Frags of Rock is, without a doubt, mind-expanding music. From the propulsive crunch of opener “Fletcher’s Field” to the softer tones of closer “Haze,” the journey from point A to point B is far from linear.
Though at its core a trio—William Gagnon, Arnaud Poulin and Eduard Paraschivescu—the band recruited a few more musicians and the result is too many instruments and styles to count. The biggest showcase of the band’s ever-changing style is “Heal?” and “Healed…” which are both around the nine-minute mark.
“Heal?” begins with spare guitar and drums, and it gradually picks up pace as it goes from eerie to full-on-blistering, ending with the whirring of reverbed guitar. “Healed…” on the other hand starts out gloomy, gradually getting louder, with interludes of static-y vocals reflecting on the world “special.”
The album’s centrepiece is also the strongest of the album—the six-minute “Since the Red Flag Waves.” It’s a de-escalation of loudness, and the band seemingly channels Kalle Mattson in Gagnon’s soft vocal delivery and warm instrumentals. The song seems to be about breaking free of your shackles, and the melody suggests that it’s a big moment of catharsis.
The album isn’t done by a longshot with those longer songs. “168-12” feels like a natural coda to “Since the Red Flag Waves” and “That Door” unexpectedly veers into slacker-rock territory.
It’s become a music writer’s cliché to call an album a “journey” so I’ll rephrase: Cubist Spheres / Frags of Rock is the Fellowship of the Ring’s journey to Mordor. You never know what to expect.
Top Track: “Since the Red Flag Waves”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)