By: Marshall Smith
On ‘MBD EP 1,’ (WHAT COULD IT STAND FOR?) Man Bites Dog of Illinois dish up a heady three course serving of rattling, jittery, math-y post-hardcore vibes. Song sections collide into one another with nary a regard for any of that ‘smooth transition’ nonsense—abrupt stops and starts abound, keeping listeners on their toes and band geeks happy. The guys are clearly talented musicians, so thankfully things stay nice and tight even during the most hectic passages.
Within each of the EP’s three tracks, MDB alternate distinctly between the emo/indie approach to ‘post-hardcore’ (think Kinsella brothers [I’m looking at you, vocal delivery at 1:36 on ‘Disconnect’]) and its more strident sibling (we’re talking ‘Relationship of Command’ era At The Drive-In). Although repeated, rapid changes in tone can wear down most listeners (I, myself being no exception), the short run time of the release keeps things sounding fresh and the execution more novel than tired.
The stand-out track for my money is ‘Take,’ which features a particularly gratifying vocal breakdown around the 45 second mark which dives head-first into a good old-fashioned math-rock guitar clash, with the bass and drums doing an admirable job of keeping things anchored. Sweet licks keep coming as the song unfurls and the band flashes some slick jazz influences; from there, the track gradually deconstructs itself until only a swirling mess of guitar pedal delay is left.
Man Bites Dog’s EP 1 definitely warrants a listen for fans of unconventional rock—I would also bet a shiny nickel or two these guys can put on a rowdy wild show, and that counts for a lot in my book.