Songs Of The Week: Pet Symmetry / Earl Sweatshirt
by Trevor Johnson and Chad Jewett
Pet Symmetry – “Class Action Force (Useless Tools)”
When listening to Pet Symmetry, a Chicago emo trio featuring members of Into It. Over It., Kittyhawk, and Dowsing — all bands with their own specific and finely-tuned sounds — the temptation can be to try to reverse-engineer as you listen, figuring out (probably incorrectly) where each sonic touch finds its home. “Class Action Force (Useless Tools)”, our first listen from the band’s upcoming full-length, Pets Hounds (big fans of puns, this band) offers enough texture and sharp tunefulness to do that kind of parsing. That descending melody that resolves every other verse bar? You can find it popping up with regularity throughout Into It. Over It’s Intersections. That measured, piano-dotted bridge? Flip a coin between The Get Up Kids power-pop brightness of Dowsing’s I Don’t Even Care Anymore or Kittyhawk’s excellent Hello Again. But that’s all academic. (That some of these bands share members makes this even more of a fool’s errand). To zoom out is to notice the ways in which Pet Symmetry has captured a very specific stripe of turn-of-the-millennium autumnal guitar pop, the kind of carefully honed melodic punk that last saw its prime with records like Hot Rod Circuit’s Sorry About Tomorrow and Moneen’s Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now. The guitars are bright and warm, the verses build to choruses, which settle into bridges, which rise back into choruses, and the general impression is that of a finely-built three minutes of energy and melody, some long lost Vagrant Records single, confident in its own subtle pop intelligence. – CJ
Earl Sweatshirt – “Grief”
“Pardon me for going into details,” young Earl offers a minute-or-so into his latest “Grief”. The humor there is that anyone pulling up a new Earl Sweatshirt track is primed for exactly that: the gory details. Not unlike headliners Kendrick Lamar and Drake, Earl isn’t afraid to rap through his demons. On 2013’s Doris it was his own perils: paranoia, lethargy, abandonment. “Grief” is instead the sound of a young contender throwing his hat into the ring. Still sleepy, Earl’s swimmers-lung flow sounds, for the first time, like it’s coming through clenched teeth. “Good grief,” he opens, an audible smh, and eventually “I don’t act hard, I’m a hard act to follow,” the literal opposite of a Big Sean line.
Earl Sweatshirt will never be a radio rapper. The only difference between his choruses and his verses are that the former has a slight tendency to happen twice. But so far in his short career he is unlike almost anyone in the game, his verses carrying on for minutes at a time without losing their allure or their compelling impact. He doesn’t want to write a club banger, further evidenced by his sly dig at those who “think they eatin’ off of hooks” quip in “Grief”. But it’s all such a great show of strength, sounding more like a mission statement than a therapy session — all over a beat that is more hauntingly beautiful than the just plain haunting ambience we’ve come to know from a lot of Odd Future alums. Earl wants a seat at the table but he wants to get there his way. This here is a perfect start. “Good grief”. First word emphasis. – TJ