New band formations are always exciting news for avid music listeners, and formations don’t get much newer than Cleveland, Ohio-based math rock duet Doxa. Doxa released their debut song “Manic Pixie” yesterday (May 12). It contains components that will satisfy listeners of the math rock scene with smooth yet somewhat irregular guitar patterns that give it a distinct sound that makes it addicting to listen to.
When the track begins to play, almost no time is wasted before the vocals come in. Vocalist Mat Colwell has a very distinct voice that differs from other bands in the math rock genre like American Football and This Town Needs Guns. Drummer Matt Novak also does a great job throughout, knowing where to place up-tempo fills and where to keep the drum patterns simple to let the groove of the guitar transition us to the next part of the song.
Complicated relationships between two individuals are a pretty common theme for songwriters. However, the use of words sung by Colwell are very well written to demonstrate this odd relationship. In the instance of this track, Belladonna is almost the voice of reason in this individual’s life; however, she is unavailable to this individual. This much can be heard in the lines “exchanging/ philosophies: I show you chaos, you show me the sun still shines / Too bad your forehead reads: ‘emotionally unavailable.’”
The viewpoints between Belladonna and the individual in the relationship are very consistent throughout “Manic Pixie”, which gives the track the feel of a story in a sense. This protagonist is somewhat of a pessimist, and Belladonna seems to be an optimistic individual. The clash between the two makes the relationship interesting, especially since we’re hearing the story from the side of the pessimist. The track doesn’t even end with a possible resolution – rather, it ends with the simple lines “Thing aren’t / fine.” Given the mood and the feel of the track, I found this to be fitting.
Bands in the math rock genre have an interesting way of perfectly placing atypical rhythmic structures and odd time signatures within their music and making it all sound like it belongs. It’s a feat that’s not easy to accomplish. However, Doxa does an excellent job of adhering to these principles, and not going overboard with irregular rhythmic placements to insert something that actually doesn’t belong. Within the track, it’s evident that the members of Doxa didn’t simply throw things together with no rhyme or reason to create a giant bowl of notemeal. Rather, the components of “Manic Pixie” had their placements and worked well for the creative space that they occupy.