Mobius Band: City Vs. Country EP

How interesting that the electro-rock trio Mobius Band (Peter Sax, Noam Schatz, Ben Sterling) christened its EP City VS Country, virtually demanding that one invoke binary comparisons between them; if its music is broached on such terms, the city clearly wins, as the disc's five songs bespeak the frenzied roar of the metropolis considerably more than bucolic backwoods charm. In fact, the title likely refers to the geographical shift of two band members from rural Massachusetts to Brooklyn plus the band's move (following three self-released EPs) from its own label to Ann Arbor's Ghostly, themes presumably carried through lyrically in the title song. But to some degree that remains conjecture, given how hard it is to decipher the lyrics when Sterling's singing is buried under stabbing guitar roar and pummeling drums.

I suspect, however, that Mobius Band isn't wasting time imagining some future date when its songs' lyrics will be published in book form (à la Lou Reed), given that the group's strongest suit is clearly melody over all else; the aptly-named opener “Starts Off With A Bang,” for example, boasts enough hooks to rival your favourite ABBA classic. The song packs a breathtaking amount of lush detail into three minutes of soaring electropop, as motorik beats power Sterling's monotone vocal (a bit reminiscent of Michael Stipe in its most nasal moments) while glockenspiels alternate with guitar crunch. Almost its equal, “Multiply” opens in more conventional indie-rock mode with the focus on scarred guitar noise but then adds yearning melodies and delicate vocals to broaden the emotional scope before sailing out on a euphoric crescendo. The band approaches its material mercurially, never staying too long with one hook before leaping to the next, and infuses the songs with a stunning amount of energy; dynamically, the trio can drop to a hushed murmur and then rise to a massive skull-crushing roar with consummate ease (e.g., “Year of the President”). Needless to say, Ghostly has never flirted this closely with the mainstream before, but Mobius Band's more populist indie-rock sounds fine, no matter the label. Regardless of the genre, the group exudes so much passion and imagination in a mere twenty-minutes it puts other groups to shame.

April 2005