Media Jeweler don’t leave a lot of room for processing. Their twitchy, frantic math rock moves at a relentless pace, and once they offer up one idea, they tend not to repeat it too many times. The nine tracks on their new full-length, 1-800 Succeed (which is short enough to be an EP), tend to wrap up almost as soon as they get off the ground, often buzzing by as a storm of instrumental intensity. There are songs here, structures and fully realized sequences, but they never stay comfortable in one place; any attempts to diagram out which part of the song is the verse, the chorus or the bridge might not be a pointless endeavor but potentially a joyless one. It’s more fun simply to let Media Jeweler dictate where the music goes.
The Santa Ana, California band’s sophomore album shaves a whole minute off the running time of its predecessor, 2015’s $99 R/T Hawaii, and they waste no time in getting right to the blazing instrumental dynamics. With a climactic drumroll, opening track “Complaint 1” blasts into a 50-second exercise of discordant noise-rock chords and rhythmic pulse. It’s tense and powerful, an opening shot that portends dizzying things to come. That’s exactly what the listener should expect; the hi-speed spoken-word post-rock of “Colourblocking” is like Slint played at 78 RPM, the back-and-forth fingertapping technique of “Hulahoop” isn’t as elegant as American Football’s, though certainly more exciting, and “Motivate” briefly suggests the band can deliver a pop song if they choose to, which is really only half-right. It’s catchy, fun and carries a strong groove, though this is still the work of a band making a concerted effort to dispense with songwriting norms as best they can.
The only real moment where the momentum halts is “Complaint 2,” which is almost the polar opposite of “Complaint 1.” It’s four minutes of repetitive, slow-moving jams, and it feels like a lot longer than that. And though the band deserves some credit for offering a reprieve from the otherwise relentless mathletics, it ends up feeling like overcompensation for something that wasn’t really a problem. And though that song is nearly one-quarter the length of the album, the accelerated rhythms of “Warning Shots” and “Ringtone” more than make up for it. Media Jeweler are at their best when casting aside all hesitation.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.