Intelligent, Eccentric, Punchy, Dramatic
Crisp, Punchy, Raw-Yet-Polished
Hey, did you notice all these dad-gum adjectives?
I’ve got more: Disorienting, dark-humor, clever, provocative, literate, sly…
…And I STILL feel like I haven’t scratched the surface both for this EP, the third that Vancouver eclectic progressive outfit SQUARE has produced since May 2020, and for SQUARE itself.
They describe their music as “… hard-hitting, punk-prog post-rock music…”, and well, it’s just that genres don’t really capture SQUARE that well.
After all, The World IS SQUARE! Hmm.
But me, I’m sticking with eclectic, so…
Let’s Back Up First
Then we can really go forward. It’s this kind of discombobulating thought process that seems to tickle these intrepid, ‘over-educated’ songsters.
I listened to “The World Is Square” (hey, it’s required of MOST reviewers) then immediately listened to the debut EP, “The Sky Beneath”, and then the sophomore release, “Elsewhere”.
And thought, perhaps irrelevantly, “what a great single album this triptych would be!”
Then, “Whoa, that would be a LOT to digest”, because SQUARE packs in many ideas, melodies, lyrics, references, and music into even one track much less NINE.
(Remember those darn adjectives?!)
James Maxwell– drums; Edward Top– Voice, Guitar, Violin; Alfredo Santa Ana– Guitar; and Nathan Dillon– Bass, vocals.
Check out their musical experience and training on the band’s website. Suffice it to say: (here comes another adjective) “impressive“.
The World Is Square
This EP contains three tracks. Jangling guitar chords open eponymous track 1, “The World Is Square”, and soon the wild, punchy, crisp rhythm section joins. Whimsical, ironic male vocals sing poetic lyrics that for me refer to rigid religious thought that denies science and other evidences of reality.
The mood shifts and the guitar drives a more meditative passage which builds, and what sounds like trombone?, which then subsides. More jangling, picked guitar chords in finger stretching voicings, and some spoken words that made me think of the apocalyptic scriptures like “The Book of Revelation”…only rendered faintly absurd.
Sprinkled throughout this track- as well as this EP- there are effective sound effects; on this one thunder peals.
IF the opening guitar riffs were a little edgier, I might have thought “AC/DC” a bit more forcefully than I did. But I found the punchy chords and gutsy rhythm section to be spare, yet effective. These give way to gentler picked guitar chords, followed by those jangly clean chords with busy drumming and spare bass lines.
Both guitarist work in tandem, one doing staccato accents, the other in a different register filling in other spaces.
Whoever took the lead guitar line, it was a mini-masterwork in bluesy, jazzy melody and improvisation, and this was the only track where the lead guitar really let loose. I want more! Meanwhile the backing guitar is really hammering on some gutsy staccato chords, and there are some nice barreling bass lines and powerful drumming.
These guys waste not one note, overplay nothing, and make every moment count.
Lyrics were in my ears, commentary on silly religion that defies good sense- the theological teapot no one can see, but damned if it isn’t there, it’s got to be!
The closing track features violin arpeggios opening the tune accompanied by a chaos of sounds. The crunchy rhythm section joins and we hear a distorted guitar line in the distance over odd, dissonant guitar chords. Dreamy, wistful male vocals sing over complex band backing, and the lyrics seem to be suggesting a spiritual release, a kind of surrender and baptism- “Come drifting soul, surrender…”.
This shifts into a growing, building instrumental passage that intensifies, and those reflective male vocals enter. The music subsides and squealing guitar remains, along with vocal sounds. There are picked guitar chords, and some deep chanted male voices- I can’t make out what they’re saying.
Let’s Sum Up
SQUARE has constructed an excellent, provocative eclectic progressive rock EP, one that is packed full of fun, energy, and ideas.
I thoroughly enjoyed this, as well as the first two offerings from SQUARE.
SQUARE links: bandcamp– https://squarebandvan.bandcamp.com/album/the-world-is-square; website– https://www.squaremusic.ca/; youtube– https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq1hTs3n3nrt7UmIyI3tUJg
Progressive Rock Fanatics private facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/595398647223538/?multi_permalinks=1413972172032844¬if_t=like¬if_id=1503396208171776