Pop Unknown If Arsenic Fails, Try Algebra (Deep Elm)

Texas Platters

Record Reviews

Pop Unknown

If Arsenic Fails, Try Algebra (Deep Elm)

The idea of love being the carrot on a stick that will solve all your problems is the linchpin of many an insipid pop song. Because punk rock evolved in disgusted opposition to this pixie-dust philosophy, the music has historically gagged itself on matters of the heart. Pop Unknown's raw-nerve brand of delicate emotional honesty seems to strive toward a healthier balance of romance and rebellion. The local quartet's sound combines melody and crunch along with unabashed vulnerability in place of empty beer cans. If Arsenic Fails, Try Algebra (a title sure to resonate with those of us who are mathematically challenged) begins with "Head in the Sand," a brash, hook-laden gem that would be the obvious choice for radio. From there, Pop Unknown explores more mellifluous terrain within the slow-building "An Offering." If John Hughes still made movies for teenagers, he could do a lot worse than bedding the anticlimax with a forever-longing tune like "Last to Know." The esoteric "Forward = Rewind" uses languid guitar interplay and a flight attendant reciting the safety drill to evoke the bittersweet dissonance of remembering something good that's gone. Although If Arsenic Fails, Try Algebra requires certain mood-related concessions from the listener, Pop Unknown's lack of hackneyed, love-conquers-all drivel makes it a fair trade.

***  

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Quiet Company
On Corners & Shapes (Record Review)

Rachel Rascoe, Feb. 8, 2019

Texas Platters
Beth//James
Falling (Record Review)

Rachel Rascoe, Feb. 8, 2019

More by Greg Beets
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
80 local picks from Molly Burch to Brownout

Dec. 28, 2018

Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
80 local picks from Molly Burch to Brownout

Dec. 28, 2018

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle