Math & Physics Club "In This Together" (Matinée Recordings)
Math & Physics are BACK, if on a retro tip (but with some added newness for extra spice). This chocolate box – a glorious confection spread over sixteen tracks - whirls us back through time right from fresh-for ‘16 cut “Coastal California, 1985” via a heavenly host of mislaid M&PC rarities through to stunners from their very first Matinée Recordings EPs, delivering a stern reminder that this is a band who have been wowing the zowee out of us for more than 10 years now. And hell, we’re always happy to succumb, because in our humble opinion, nobody does this kind of thing better.
"Coastal California, 1985" starts as "Jimmy Jimmy" (had a Polaroid?) but soon assumes a typically charming janglist mantle. It's one of the Club's finest compositions yet, transmuting into an unapologetically wide(r)screen sound and a refrain you'll be humming for days on end, feeling PROPER West Coast even as you traverse the paltry glamour of the Balls Pond Road in the drizzle. Had it been a single, it would be one of this blooming year's best.
The tracklist then scatters lost gems everywhere, pearls like "It Must Be Summer Somewhere" (from a Dufflecoat/Jigsaw split 7" with Monnone Alone, it irresistibly tangles early St. Christopher with the equally wet-behind-the-ears McCarthy circa "I Am A Wallet", albeit that Malcolm Eden never sang about girls in bikinis, unless I missed something seismic); the pint-sized pulchritude of "The Sound Of Snow" (as if Morrissey & Marr wrote a ballad for the Pines); or the delectable, Field Mice-confessional of "Our Own Ending".
Listening to the full decade of M&PC arrayed within these grooves, albeit a selection that eschews their excellent trio of full-lengths, it feels like the frequent early Smiths influences subside a little in their later music, but there is still a gorgeous constant - right from the first - and that's their SOUND - oh, "that smooth, sultry Seattle sound" as John Peel would have called it with a grin and a glint in his eye, had he only had the opportunity - a great, crisp wave of POP, of guitar chimes weaved with cascading melodies and brocade embellishments, repped here not just by the terrific A-sides of "Movie Ending Romance", "Baby I'm Yours" or "Weekends Away" (yup, "you've got your baggage / and I've got mine" still sounds so sweetly sinister to our ears) but by the soothing tones of the songs that surrounded them, equally deft trinkets like "Nothing Really Happened" or "When We Get Famous". Not to mention that softest of soft spots that we will always have for "Love, Again".
Indeed, our only reservation about "In This Together" is that we always get a bit worried that comps like this might herald a band break-up; signify that moment when our heroes start to go all "retrospective" on us, (ooh, but for good measure, here's a retrospective we did on them) as a way of closing the chapter before they disband and go solo / become hermits / get into drum & bass instead / go off to run ostrich farms (although in fairness, that was only Terminator X). Please, please, please (as another combo might have had it), let that not be so. Guys, don't you leave it there - we'll follow you almost anywhere.