Jake Tobin’s “1 3 5” is a great feat in experimental music. Combining elements of jazz, synth pop and indie rock, “1 3 5” is an obscurely pleasant listen. The short tunes all flesh out their off-kilter themes without overstaying their welcome. It’s harder than usual to pick out the top tracks, but some of my favorites from the record are “Do You Think the Boss Does Drugs,” “Six or Half a Dozen ( O S R ),” “Tax Code,” “1 3 5,” “Always Already There” and “How Far You Lean Out.”
“Do You Think the Boss Does Drugs” reminds me of the early days of Of Montreal. The song blends psychedelic melodies and chords with the emotion and aesthetic of bedroom pop. Pop and rock traditionally don’t have such dissonance between the notes and intervals, so Tobin’s style takes a second to get used to, but once you settle into it, it’s hard to stop listening.
“Six or Half a Dozen ( O S R )” is on the more energetic side of the album. The active bassline keeps the song moving while playful synths and guitars add texture. Tobin cleverly mocks aspects of modern culture, rattling off brand names like Honda and McDonald’s. When the saxophone comes in, the song breaks down into a noisy finale.
“Tax Code” is a freaky punk rock song. The aggression and speed are all indicative of the genre, but Tobin keeps it new with an abrasive saxophone line and abnormal time signatures. Tobin’s unique vocal style is almost chant-like. Its quick rhythm increases the anxiety of the song, adding another sharp layer to the in-your-face drums and sax.
“1 3 5” is a deep exploration of Tobin’s jazz influences. The song superimposes Tobin’s traditional wackiness onto a sweet jazz tune. Both motifs are passed between instruments. The quick-moving Tobin-esque melody is passed from bass to guitar to piano to saxophone. At a few points in the song, instruments move from one tune to another. “1 3 5” may be simple, but is one of the most compelling tracks on the record.
“Always Already There” features vocalist Adron Parnassum. She sings an impressive melody with a unique style that helps keep the album diverse. The melody doesn’t quite stay with the fast-paced beat of the drums and bass, creating two contrasting rhythms that blend together to create a complex overall rhythm.
“How Far You Lean Out” is delve into psychedelic style again, but in a more classic sense. A constant guitar riff is complemented by a tasteful and proficient guitar solo. The chord changes are reminiscent of the heyday of psych rock. I have to imagine listening to this song is what living in the ’60s was like.
My fellow music director Ashley and I both consider “1 3 5” an essential listen. The tracks in this article are a good start, but the album is worth hearing from start to finish.
Askari is a music director at Radio 1190. Read more reviews: coloradodaily.com/columnists