Math rock is a funny old thing isn’t it. It’s inherently angular to a piercing degree, commonly too obtuse for the average listener and is often an artform reserved for those outside the more approachable mainstream alt culture. With that in mind, it’s no real surprise that many bands specialising in the sound often infuse their work with bizarre, surrealist and just plain weird humour. The Bristolian math-rock duo Common Spit are one such band.
An organic product of the South West’s instrumental rock scene, Common Spit are essentially the encapsulation of the lovable puerility that lies at the heart of DIY off-kilter math rock. The band are nonsensical, giddy – and to be blunt – just plain silly. Containing tracks under the moniker of ‘Octopus Sandwich’ and ‘Bendy Bendy’, the group’s 2019 EP Silly Names lived up to it’s namesake fully. However, as anyone who delved into it can attest to, the four track EP fully stood as an authentically exciting and violently snaring offering of madcap math-rock fretwork and sidewinding noise. Approximately two years on since that debut, Common Spit are back with their second release under the guise of the Puns EP – and whilst the band have retained that sense of good-natured silliness – they’ve only doubled down on their musical prowess. Quite frankly, for a record that features a kaiju Hugh Grant, this has absolutely no right to be this good.
Restlessly sitting within the same vein of carbonated noise courtesy of Alpha Male Tea Party, Bicurious, Body Hound and fellow Bristol folk Memory Of Elephants, Puns offers far much more than just inane humour and Brittany Spears in fruit form. Across the four brilliantly titled tracks that compose the EP, Common Spit take one through a crash course of their homegrown riff-based work with backbreaking pace and dexterity. Whereas the duo’s initial work mainly manifested in barrelling riffs and jagged time signatures, Puns see’s the band weave additional intricacies into their seizing take on the genre for brilliant effect.
Immediately, opener ‘Brittany's Pears’ mares massively oversized and overdriven riffage with delicate, almost post-rock composure for fantastic juxtaposition that’s akin to the recent release from Last Hyena. Similarly, with it’s almost celestial textures underpinned hulking tones, ‘Phil Or No Phil’ is a monumental blast that offers more ethereal ambience than one would ever expect. However, it’s the ever so subtly titled ‘Huge Grant’ that truly showcases the group’s home-grown understanding of contrast and composure though. The resonates a sense of emotional levity that harbours a child-like sense of wonder and innocence, one comparable to the work of Bearded Youth Quest and emotive Scottish post-rockers VASA. For a track named in relation to Hugh Goddamned Grant it’s a surprisingly intimate and spiritually uplifting affair.
Despite all of this though, the main appeal of this EP is it’s constant charm, flair and haplessly lovable homegrown personality. Every second of this authentically brilliant EP glistens with Common Spit’s humour and ludicrous humour, and even with the newfound focus on delicate textures, Puns still hammers the constant riffs and fluidity. Simply put, this serves as a lovable slice of lacerating fun and silly escapism that's served with razor like skill and charm. We're sure Hugh Grant would approve.