Album Of The Week: Large Margin by Large Margin
Melody can be found in every shape and form, something that’s clear listening to Large Margin’s self-titled debut where you’ll quickly find out that the single greatest melodic aspect of the music is the downright chaos of it.
Now, using chaos as melody is nothing new. Punk iconoclasts, hardcore thrashers, and even electronic experimenters have been doing it for decades now. But the manner in which Large Margin lets unpredictability roam on their debut LP feels especially exceptional. Almost as if the sound of Large Margin exists outside of the quartet, perhaps in a meta-physical five-piece set-up where the fifth member is a roaming specter, a manifestation of chaos that stalks its bandmates in the studio and rehearsal space, egging them on to be more outlandish and desultory. And the key here is that the band embraces this feeling, leaning in hard to disrupt and contort songs that could very well exist in a hummable pop format.
Opening track “Smothered And Covered” presents this theory early, with a song that leaps from punk to garage to hardcore to pop and then even to no wave, all in just under three minutes. It zigs and zags hard against expectations. When you feel it’s going to descend into hardcore thrashing, a cheeky post-punk guitar rhythm pokes its head. When you think the vocals are going to start piercing your eardrums, you hear a harmonic chant come through. The band leans so hard in this aberrant direction that it even commits some sonic solecisms, most notably an undercurrent of southern rock poking through the end of the track as the fuzzy distortion takes on a new level. It feels unplanned, but then again, if chaos is the fifth member, what really would be unplanned here?
Above the chaos though, Large Margin’s record is full of songs that are just plain good, a testament to the diligent songwriting at play here. It is songwriting that very much honors the proud lineage of punk music it follows, one that very much seeks to present the familiar in an unfamiliar territory. For evidence of this, look no further than the record’s most notable track, “Rinse And Repeat.”
A slower, more somber affair, the track still contains elements of chaos and unpredictability, but reins it in with a reserved diapason that shows of the band’s depth and artistry. Even as the song unravels later on, it does so in assurance of the song’s core, instead of an irreverent deviation. You get the sense of that phantasmal fifth member here too, but instead of looking to disrupt, you feel their effort in fortifying the song, making it a bold statement for anyone looking to shut this music down for being too fractious.
The number of band members aside, Large Margin’s debut is a purely audacious record. Utilizing discord as its own form of harmony and harmony as its own form of shock, it’s one that routinely defies expectations. These aren’t musical jump scares though, fleeting moments to illicit a brief pause within a song. Instead, these are shifts and turns that enhance the ambience and mood of the record, one whose end seems very easy to locate within the first minute yet impossible to understand the next. It’s the natural evolution of rock music for a generation that has everything at its fingertips and needs something, anything, to shake up the status quo in a manner that’s still memorable and accessible.