Upon the release of 2018's Lived Here Before, it's been five years since the last Math and Physics Club album, but all the hallmarks of their sound remain intact. The required amount of guitar jangle, sweet indie pop melody, tender and true lyrics, and Charles Bert's wistfully sincere singing are all on display, and the band delivers a few songs that stand with its best work. The gently rumbling "Threadbare," the warm-hearted "Broadcasting Waves," and the insistent "All the Mains Are Down" are all first-rate examples of the best kind of indie pop, when the music, words, and voices work together to wrap the listener in the audio equivalent of a long, strong hug. The record is more than just a few great songs, though. Like on their last album, Our Hearts Beat Out Loud, the band continues to expand its sound, becoming more muscular than ever and stretching the songwriting a bit. Tracks like the circular "The Pull of the Tides" and the almost C&W "Take a Number" wouldn't have appeared on an early MAPC album, and Lived Here Before is enriched by their presence. The rest of the record has a fuller, more dynamic sound than the previous album too, and when the songs rock, like on "Past and in Between," they have some real punch. The ballads like "Dear Madeline" also have a real echoing beauty that the band has previously hinted at but can fully realize now. Credit the production by indie rock veteran Chris Hanzsek for the improved sound, the band for the expansive arrangements, and Bert for coming up with MAPC's strongest set of songs to date. Put it all together and it's the best record the band has done and some really fine indie pop that shows the long-running style has some life left in it yet.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra