We Versus the Shark

Ruin Everything!

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Math rock can either put you to sleep, albeit with searing nightmares, or it can take you into the very equation itself. @Elephant 6-land/quirky-pop-utopia Athens, GA, seems an unlikely place for cerebral, Fugazi-meets-Emerson, Lake & Palmer post-punk/progressive rock, but the smoke billowing out of this closed, suburban garage door is not the result of a middle-aged, carbon-monoxide suicide attempt; it's the sound of speakers blowing out of their cabinets. We Versus the Shark must kill live, because their impressive debut, Ruin Everything!, bristles with the barely suppressed energy that can only emanate from a packed, sweaty basement show in mid-July. "You Don't Have to Kick It," with its caffeinated "La La Love You"-Pixies-drum cue, sets the listener up with a quick overture of what's to follow. In just four minutes the band manages to not only make art rock cool again, but blissfully danceable. Styles are referenced, slapped, and sent on their way throughout. From the hardcore onslaught of "This Graceless Planet" to the pop perfection of "Slide" -- the best song X never wrote -- We Versus the Shark's serpentine guitar lines, chilly synths, left-field horn sections, and leg-snapping percussion channel everyone from Rush to Gang of Four to Johann Sebastian Bach. Ruin Everything! is a serious debut, and although its power is occasionally sucked dry by the recording's flat production, it's impossible ignore the white-hot intensity of its execution.

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