I’ve spoken a lot about restraint over the years on the blog. I usually bring it up when we discuss technical genres, from all over the wide gamut of sounds, and that’s no mistake; whenever you have a genre that glorifies technical skill, flamboyance and extravagance are sure to follow. This kind of willful decadence, of unrestrained embellishment of every note, lick and roll, takes a lot away from what makes music so impactful. It can be great when done right (like Artificial Brain for example or LITE, to name just two amazing, technical bands, with tons of feeling) but way too often leads to diluted messages and composition. Math-rock especially just ends up being a mess, more concerned with aesthetic in the form of cover art and shirts and less on composition.
It’s a good thing Covet exist then because they’re not only an example of how it can be done right but also an example of how a band can learn that kind of restraint as it keeps working on what makes it tick. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Covet’s earlier releases; I even own a shirt! But there was definitely plenty on them which could have been excised for a more careful and powerful delivery. Focused on main guitarist and composer Yvette Young’s skills, the previous Covet efforts too often felt a bit thin and airy, sapped under the weight of too many notes. But effloresce is a whole different release; on it, Covet are much more a band in the true sense, parts supporting a richer, fuller, more impactful whole.
This is, first and foremost, marked by the wider range of sounds present on the album. Take “Glimmer” for example, the second track on the album. It’s a bit more melancholic than what we’re used to as a band. This is achieved by a great, and fresh, guitar effect on the end of the track as well as a much more present and robust bass tone through out it. Things feel more planned, as if the parts accompanying the guitar were written as a whole rather than as an accompaniment. This also leads the guitar to ease up a bit, to produce a more focused sound and playing style. There are a ton of leads on the track still, leads which could have been elongated and which could have spiraled away into even more notes and flourishes. But instead, they’re there to break things up as a hook rather than taking over the main flow of the track.
This also comes across in the range of different beats and rhythms that the groove section explores across the album. “Falkor” for example has a bass and drum combo that is hard to ignore, constantly vying for attention, and often winning, with the guitar. The spotlight has shifted and is now being shared across the whole range of the band’s abilities, rather than being just a showcase for the guitar work that’s made math-rock so notoriously famous. The end result, as with “Glimmer”, is that “Falkor” feels like a much more rounded track, full of ups and downs rather than a constant, aural barrage of notes, skips and various leads.
This is the kind of vibe which accompanies the rest of the album; the slightly morose sound is continued across all tracks. There are plenty of signature Covet moments, like the sweet riff which opens the album on “Shibuya” (featuring the awesome San Holo) which is as playful, unrestrained math-rock as you get. But on the whole, effloresce is a more understated, controlled and, dare we say it, mature release for Covet. This is, frankly, a beauty to witness, as the band manages to tap into their true potential and bring forth a great math-rock, a fine album that manages to cut into the fat that sometimes overburdened their past music and bring forth something leaner, more complete and more fulfilling. Here’s to hoping that they can continue down this path of self exploration and that more bands pay attention to the journey they’ve come. For now, let me just throw on “Falkor” again and go a-dancing.
Covet’s effloresce sees release on July 13th via Triple Crown Records. Head on over here to pre-order it! Good times and fields of flowers will come to you if you do.