Somewhere between the impenetrable stylings of Sonic Youth, the glorious mid-1980’s punk spasticity of Hüsker Dü, and the frenetic babble that’s defined the last thirty years of math rock, there lies a goldmine of musical nostalgia exists to be mined. And mined it has been.
Of course, every so often a band digs so deeply into one of these subjective retro fascination mines that they become pigeonholed with existing genres descriptions. That being said, Atlanta’s freshest semi-instrumental duo Hyper Olympic cover a lot of ground on Life is But A Dream Team, and one can imagine a myriad of these descriptors being attached to it depending on which song the listener hears first. But one of the most consistent among these labels would certainly be math rock.
Burying atonal tapping riffs, mumbled melodies, and triathlon drum sessions within disparate yet accessible song structures, most math heads won’t need to look any further than the band’s nearly twelve-minute single “Watching Mothra Save the Day While Ignoring Calls From Miles Away” for proof.
It’s worth noting that for all of that song’s length, it still manages to come off as a relatable and digestible piece of work. The same can be said for the shorter songs as well. Personal favorites “Spider Bake Sale” and “Space – It was about Astronauts” are just as enjoyable, much in part to the onslaught of riffs being so consistent.
As the record wraps up with “Where’s the Luau? Dang!” the listener is relatively permeated with a psychedelic euphoria as Hyper Olympic casually weaves occasional Flaming Lips style ‘verses’ with saucy Tera Melos guitars.
Again, one could theoretically come away with it with a fairly different take depending on which song they hear first, but that’s part of what makes this debut so effective. The band expertly avoided the sound of trying too hard. They also the sound of a band trying too little by giving each idea just enough importance and space without compromising the youthful energy of each section.
Having a sense of humor about it all goes a long way as well, and luckily that is one of the most present elements here reflected of its Gen-X influences. The subtle 311 reference on the cover, the perfectly “feeling woozy here” soundbite, the snotty vocals and strange song titles… it’s all there.
Math rock is off to a good start this year, and records like this help symbolize that even within familiar territory, there are still avenues to explore. Check out their Bandcamp and WREK 91.1 performance above, or book a show with them via the band’s Instagram.