Space Corolla’s debut, Never Happy, shines at times. It’s not really my cup of tea, mostly due to the vocal style, however I can see why fans of post-hardcore and math rock will want to listen to this album.
The math rock elements of Never Happy are excellent. If you want an album that makes you think you cannot play guitar, this is a good one. Never Happy is also, for all its density, not all that heavy – for those who aren’t fans of crushing walls of sound, this is a good one to take a listen to. You will find the twiddling, trebley guitars so prevalent in math rock, and some of the motifs and licks commonly found in the genre too. It is all good stuff, though – there is an especially pretty section in “Copamarina”, and the ability to meld technical ability, rock, and subtlety makes “Stranger Danger” a song that genuinely has a niche to fill.
All that said, if you manage to find Space Corolla live, I can see how these songs could very easily be converted into the soundtrack to an absolute rampage. Despite probably not being about to listen to the album in my spare time, I would certainly go to a live show for precisely that.
Not only is the music well written, but it is effectively produced also. All the standard check-boxes are there – everything is clearly definable (you can hear the bass!) – but there are also some genuinely outstanding pieces of mixing. Check out (just the first two parts of) “David Bowie Whacks Postmodernism Over the Head With a Crowbar” for some tapping in stereo that I cannot help but love.
I am not a fan of the vocals, however. It’s a style thing. They are your quintessentially Northern American (the band are Puerto Rican, if it matters), whiny, and oh-so-very post-pop-punk vocals. Think A Day to Remember. Worse, as the vocals come in, the backing becomes less math rock and more chord chugging. This is not the case all the time – see “Copamarina” and “Mind Your Meds” for vocals fairly artfully being layered over technical guitarwork. But, many of the times the vocals come in, we are directed towards them. This is, admittedly, probably the best of options – I would be complaining that the backing distracts from the vocal lines otherwise – but it is a pity if you are not a fan of the style.
But it is no surprise that my favourite track on the album, and the track that convinced me to give the other songs more of a chance, is “Eight Years Of Self-Doubt, And All I Got Was This Lousy Epiphany”, the one instrumental outing here.
This has been a difficult album to judge. I genuinely think that fans of the pop-punk and vocal style will love it – when I ignore the singing, it’s an excellent album. I cannot decide whether the dislike for the vocals is just an issue of personal taste – in which case, feel free to ignore every time I have mentioned them – or something deeper that might suggest that their seeming irksome to me is indicative of an actual irksome nature. I really hope that you give the band the chance they seem to deserve by checking out the song linked above and deciding for yourself.
Notable Tracks: “David Bowie Whacks Postmodernism With A Crowbar”; “Eight Years Of Self-Doubt And All I Got Was This Lazy Epiphany”
FFO: This Town Needs Guns, Look Mexico, Their / They’re / Therapy