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False Pockets do the math, rock on 'Selfish Prophecies' 

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The six songs on Rochester math-rock band False Pockets’s debut EP in 2019 contained a mere 50 words. But the music was no less potent for it, with intricate rhythms and processed guitar lines filling the space typically occupied by vocal melodies.

But “Selfish Prophecies,” the trio’s new album due out Feb. 18, finds guitarist and vocalist Erik Happ getting downright verbose, even if he does so reluctantly. “I don’t like to feel like I’m bragging or even talk about myself at all,” he breathlessly sings on the opening track, “No Multiple of Mine.” Call it making up for lost time.

To that end, “Selfish Prophecies” surges with urgency. Happ is aided by bassist (and mixing engineer) Zack Parker and drummer Ben Chesnes, who do much more than just create a solid foundation for Happ’s guitar explorations. Their interlocking, stuttering rhythms are essential in making “You WANT It Crusty?” in particular so memorable. Try tapping along with your foot and you might get dizzy.

Each piece of this power trio feels integral to its whole sound, and all three members’ synchronized movements and shifting time signatures make the tempo change-ups on songs like “Quarter Life Crisis Diapers” and “Goldfish That I Won at Carnivals” hit like caffeine jolts.

Math rock can occasionally be too clever for its own good. Thankfully, False Pockets roots every song in tension-and-release instead of showy musical equations. Chunkier passages on the excellently titled “Maybe If My Name Were Raymond More People Would Love Me,” for example, follow gentler breakdowns that allow the band’s energy to build.

The band’s reliance on dynamics finds the music dipping into progressive rock just as often as it takes cues from the limber, twinkling guitar work of 1990s Midwestern emo bands. But broadly, “Selfish Prophecies” doesn’t quite sound like anything else.

Near the blistering end of “Shellfish Profits, Lee,” Happ’s throat-shredding yells almost become an additional layer of distortion. “What did I do to deserve such a treatment?” he suddenly roars.

It must be the price to pay for finally being heard.

Patrick Hosken is a freelance writer for CITY. Feedback on this article can be directed to
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