Ambition and technical proficiency, 22 display a considerable amount of both. On their debut album ‘Flux’, the Norwegian foursome unleash some of the most rapid-fire, untamed, rock you’re likely to hear this year. The band’s signature lies in a combination of complex progressive elements and an effortless pop sensibility, with a taste for finely-tuned hooks of gargantuan proportions.
Any sceptics regarding the band’s ability to mold what is, at times, downright math rock into exciting pop gems need not wait long to be proven wrong. ‘Plastik’ mischievously starts in a measured ethereal manner, a peaceful introduction that is brutally brought to an end by a barrage of off-kilter riffs. Twisting and turning, 22’s instrumentals often border on elusiveness.
However, the delicate balance the band strike isn’t always entirely successful. ’Chrysalis’, for example, gets lost in the effects and, because of the song’s more straight-forward approach, suffers from comparison with ‘Flux’s other tracks. On the other hand, a couple of tracks here share a distinctive sound, exciting musicianship and a Matt Bellamy-esque knack for stretching vocals that propel them into excellency territory. ‘Kneel Estate’ is a stand-out track, from a groovy spine of bass 22 intertwines whispers and a terrific chorus.
The instrumentals in title track ‘Flux’ are nothing short of amazing as the band swerve between time signatures with the mechanical proficiency of a Rolex. It’s not everyday that we hear of Norway’s rock scene, but if the scene is anything like 22 then we might as well retire our ears. Technically impressive, uncompromisingly math, conjured by unending pits of energy, 22 is math pop like you’ve (most probably) never heard it. So hear it.
‘Flux’ by 22 is available now on Best Before Records.
Words by James Berclaz-Lewis (@swissbearclaw)