London math-pop quartet Quadrilles first came on my radar in 2015 with their last release Isotopes, and their new full-length Amuse Bouche is an impressive step forward by the band. Their songwriting has matured greatly and this album is full of lush textures and melodies combined with intertwining rhythms and harmonies that create dense arrangements and a band that is firmly outside the box of whatever you would assume a math-pop band would sound like. On first listen to Amuse Bouche I couldn’t help, but feel a sense of invitation, and the music is very inviting and welcoming in a way that I feel very few contemporary ‘math’ bands can or try to pull off. The Quadrille was an European style of dance that originated in France and peaked in popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries and is similar to the American Square Dance. I don’t know if the band had the dance in mind when songwriting, but the jubilant and bouncy melodies found in Quadrilles songs fit well for a band named after a complexly coordinated, yet fun and inviting dance.
After a very short intro short or wake up call to the listener the band doesn’t mess around and ‘£15 Dinners’ is a really catchy tune that incorporates a wide plethora of influences and great back and forth guitar work between Luke Barber and Ken Chu. Luke Barber’s vocals are powerful throughout the album and quite unique sounding. I think a key element to the openness and inviting feeling of the music comes from Luke’s vocals that kind of guide you and lead you around the twists and turns the music takes in every song.
The other Luke in the band, Luke Gain on drums, is super solid and one of my favorite things about Luke’s drumming is he’s a very melodic drummer and instead of always sitting in the pocket or trying to overplay and play on top of the rhythm he plays a lot of cool beats that line up with the melodies. A great example of this is on the song ‘Nang Steed’ and he opens the song with a shuffle beat in conjunction with the open guitar riff and by the verses is playing a very melodic beat that bounces along with the guitar melodies and bass line and then pops into place with a more subdued backbeat for the chorus playing in-between the notes. Dave Molnar is a quiet beast on the bass, and he’s the anchor of the band that really brings the guitars, vocals, and drums all together, but in a way that’s not instantly recognizable, but in a way that is subtle yet very important. Dave’s bass work on ‘Kebob Pizza’ is some of my favorite bass lines I’ve heard in 2017 thus far, and it’s not just good bass playing, but great part writing and arrangement in the context of the song.
‘Forzano’ is a real stand out track to me because the band was willing to go into territory on that song that a lot of other contemporary ‘math’ bands be them math-pop, math-rock, whatever aren’t willing to go, and that’s write a really great ballad. The song immediately conjured feelings in my mind of old Sothern Records bands from the 1990’s like Rex and Karate and is unabashedly a very lush acoustic ballad while remaining dense in its arrangements and melodies. The band goes out swinging to end the album with ‘Parmo is Parmo Backwards’ which is the most ‘mathy’ and most musically drive song on the album. Unabashed is great way to sum up the album, and Quadrilles do things their own way and that’s apparent because there’s few bands that sound like Quadrilles. If you like well thought out original music, you should give this album a listen and see if it invites you in.