Five years after their full-length release, Killer Tofu, the San Diego-based instrumental band Stage Kids have reemerged with their latest masterpiece, Intra Mental. Two new members (keyboard and electronics) have joined the quintet since 2011, resulting in more complex and dynamic soundscapes. But the majority of us are summing this one up in one word: definitive.
Stage Kids waste no time introducing their new sound with the opening track “Delaylay”. The atmospheric synth and guitar give way to a barrage of start/stop rhythms that jump from idea to idea, frequently straying from the tonic of the song, but never too far from comfort. In “Face First” the rapid staccato of the guitar and stabbing piano keys create an almost glitchy feel that evolves into frenetically tapped phrases typical of bands like Rooftops, Invalids, and Floral. In “Pulsewave”, “The Noise After”, and “Connections”, Stage Kids re-direct their song writing towards electronic sensibilities.
Overall, as is generally true for the math rock genre, Intra Mental is an album of excess, an album where lavish melodies are on parade. To quote the band directly “…what we’re trying to do as musicians is really just make the craziest, sickest shit we can possibly fuckin’ make…” (A Stage Kids Documentary, 2016). Intra Mental is a quintessential math rock album but beyond its sensory exploits, it’s also a visceral, emotional ride.