In life, there are such things as noble failures. These are swing-from-the-rafters attempts that, despite the best intentions, just go completely awry. As an artist myself, I truly believe these are just as important as unequivocal successes. Not only do we learn from them, but we also learn to love them. The worst thing anyone can do is make something dull and not give a shit. Victims Of The New Math’s I Believe is a noble failure. On a technical level, it is not a good EP, and YET it is probably one of the most memorable collection of songs I have heard all year. At times it will hurt your ears and at other times it might just charm the hell out of you.
Again, and this cannot be stated enough, I Believe does not contain good music. The band’s reported musical goal is to make the best album of 1973. Not only does this not sound like it’s in the same ballpark as Dark Side of The Moon, it doesn’t even sound like it’s from this solar system. The creative and technical decisions that were made are so baffling, that it will make you wonder how the hell anyone thought this should be released. Joe Young’s singing is often so shockingly out of tune, that it makes it difficult to hear what melody he was even aiming for. Thomas Young’s rhythm guitar playing is pretty passable, but the solos are amateurish noodling that add nothing and go nowhere. Don’t even get me started on the lyrics in desperate need of editing.
The EP’s magnum opus is without a doubt “Crashing Meteorites.” I kid you not when I say it will haunt you. “Leaving holes in your backyard/ thousands of times every year/ we’re just crashing meteorites” Joe wails as if he’s that neighbour who you wish wouldn’t sing in the shower. I get that this is “supposed” to be a metaphor for the aimlessness of the human condition but it DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE! Meteorites don’t crash a thousand times a year! Why are they all crashing into this one person’s backyard? I’d chalk it up to Joe for being absurd for absurdities sake, but it doesn’t at all fit with the song’s world-weary tone.
Despite that, I Believe has one big thing going for it. It’s undeniably unforgettable. I have reviewed musically better EPs, but not many as accidentally appealing as this one. Sure, it’s executed poorly, and most likely to give a sound engineer an aneurysm, but it’s also overflowing with heart. There is an almost childlike quality on display here. It’s almost as if the brothers took one music lesson and decided to record in their basement using an old mp3 that was lying around. It’s utterly immediate and pure. The Young brothers also don’t have any deluded, ageing, rock-star aspirations, which make them pretty loveable. They are actually just two engineers trying to connect, express themselves and get away from the daily grind. Any artist, talented or not, can identify with that.
My rating for this review is based purely in the interest of objectivity. I mean, any EP that has drums that sound like someone’s kicking a closet door can’t be universally loved. That said I am pretty smitten with the Young brothers, and their utterly bizarre outsider music. I think they could be The Shaggs of the 21st century; destined for obscurity but beloved by a few select weirdos like yours truly. Most people won’t like it, because it’s not pleasing on the ears, but I guarantee, for good or bad reasons, you will undeniably be entertained.
Written by Shawn Thicke
*edited by Chris Aitkens