In math rock and its related genres, there are plenty of looming pitfalls to avoid. With enough skill, flexing one’s technical prowess is often striking – what true rock fan doesn’t feel their heart skip a beat during an epically tapped solo – but, you also run the risk of tapping your music into monotonous oblivion without some subtle tempering. Unfortunately, while Fiasco’s Native Canadians enjoys its share of stunning moments, this Brooklyn band fails to really move beyond what are becoming little more than hollow conventions. Furious speed-demon drumming? Check. Blistering guitar work? Check. Dizzying amounts of syncopation? Check. They even fall back on titling their songs with baffling non-sequiturs (“Oh, You Horny Monster!”, “You Can Walk The Walk, But Can You Drive The Car?”), which any fan of Minus the Bear or Hella can tell you is really only chuckle worthy under the best of circumstances.
The record itself is pure aggro. Like any self-respecting mathy instrumental rockers, Fiasco let their in-your-face riffage and assaulting drums do the talking. Draped in gritty production that accentuates buzzing distortion and the peaks of each cymbal crash, their musical ideas come off as more of a scattered patchwork than cohesive album. Intricate guitars build and collapse into fits of heavy chords of static as Fiasco bucks traditional structure for continually progressing songs that mostly play out like extended bridges (who needs verses and choruses, right! …right?!?). And without many hooks Native Canadians, unsurprisingly, falls into the most common of weaknesses for a band of Fiasco’s bent: it’s fairly interesting, but not all that memorable.
In fact, the strongest tracks on the album are those that manage to break out of the tedium with a couple catchy refrains, the most notable being the dreadfully titled single “Oh, You Horny Monster!”. The guitar work here soars before an explosion of noise dwarfs its infectiousness, only to subside and rise again like a tide of roaring bedlam. Its juxtaposition of melody, discord, and virtuosity pushes this song well beyond nearly all the others on Native Canadians. Yet, even during its most impressive segments, I find myself wondering what Fiasco is really bringing to their genre’s landscape. With artists like Hella, Lightning Bolt, Tera Melos, and others, it seems like everything here has pretty much been covered.
But maybe that’s a little harsh, considering that the members of Fiasco are still in high school. Give them a little time and I wouldn’t be surprised if these kids were ultimately able to build upon the foundation laid on Native Canadians. With some stronger melodies, more variety, or maybe just a little more of themselves in their music, they might be on to something.
Hella – Hold Your Horse Is
Lightning Bolt – Hypermagic Mountain
Planets – Planets