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Math and Physics Club - I Shouldn’t Look as Good as I Do (Matinee)

Math and Physics Club - I Shouldn't Look as Good as I Do (Matinee)
17 January 2011

Oh, the Matinee label; like their Northern California cousins Slumberland, the Santa Barbara imprint are like drug pushers for those of us whose post-college years were filled with The Smiths leading the twee-jangle pop revolution of post-Postcard Records Britain, buying records on the early Creation and Rough Trade labels, the C-86 compilation bands, and a smattering of the Sarah label as well. And in the case of M&PC, it’s once again a fix we’re glad to keep devouring. In fact, on the Seattle trio’s second LP, they are trying to answer the question no one was asking, namely, “Does the world need an American Belle & Sebastian?”, as just about every two-minute tune on the group’s record could have been found on their Scottish forebears first four albums. (Note, Belle also shares the decided influence of the older references above). In fact, if we were told that I Should ’s opening single, “Jimmy Had A Polaroid” was an early sketch demo of Belle’s If You’re Feeling Sinister ’s standard “Judy and the Dream of Horses,” it would be easy to believe. And for folks whose adolescence was spent in Olympia, digging the K Records scene and their flagship band in particular, Beat Happening, Charles Bert and his fellow original Clubmember guitarist James Werle could easily substitute for Belle’s Stuart Murdoch and Stevie Jackson if either wanted to go on holiday while the rest of their Glasgow group kept a recording session. And does this robust resemblance in any way restrict the pleasure of listening to this upbeat, fresh-faced, friendly, and sometimes even bubbly (“Will You Still Love Me?”) music? Oddly, no. As ever, an album like this that breaks no new ground whatsoever sinks or floats on the quality of its tunes as much as the bushel of smiles that forms the band’s attitude—even when they lyrics dig so much deeper, or are self-depricating, as on the closing “We’re So DIY!” And frankly, however British in feel and conception (with a little Calvin Johnson for Pacific Northwest flavoring), on one song after another, Werle’s Johnny Marr-light-touch guitars and Ethan Jones peppy, involved basslines, and the songs’ romantic hooks just beat down any defenses you care to erect. When the addict gets the pure stuff, he surrenders. (