The songs on Porcupine‘s The Trouble With You combine the best parts of the late nineties/early two-thousands punk, math rock and indie rock together in a way that would have made fans of all three genres sit up and take notice. The fuzzed-out guitar riffs give way to mathy runs with a melodic bent before muscling through a chorus or two. These guys know their underground music history, or somehow appropriated an entire time period without knowing about it (which would be pretty amazing). As a result (or magically, if the latter is true), their songwriting espouses the ideas of those genres in that time. That means a lot of things, but one really important thing: there are melodies here, but these songs don’t rely on pop melodies as much as current rock/punk/indie bands do.
That makes the album a difficult sell; pretty much every genre of music has been subsumed into the theory that there should be a memorable hook to every song. Not convinced? The Metal Bastard says the words “the by far best grindcore band in history” and “catchy vocal line” in his review of Nasum’s last album. Even grindcore, which many people wouldn’t even call music, is subject to pop these days.
If you’re into punk and rock that’s more about mood, attitude, aesthetics and instrumentals than singalongs, then Porcupine is your band. You’ll love the technical ability of “Picture Perfect,” the punchy rhythms of “So Far So Good,” the herky-jerky guitarwork of “Cliff Diver” and the rest of the great, interesting moments on this album. If you like pop-punk, you should probably move along, or if you’re really determined, check out “Books,” which has the closest thing to a catchy vocal melody on the album.
But if you don’t appreciate that “Books” is awesome because of the tight interplay between the guitar, bass and drums, you’re missing a lot of what Porcupine is about. I hope that Porcupine finds an audience that will embrace this for what it is and not condemn it for what it isn’t (and for that matter, what I don’t think it was trying to be in the first place).