Is this where it all starts to bleed together? Is this where it all starts to sound the same? I’m mean those towels hanging on the cover of IDEAS. Towels, ideas, songs—spin them thrice in the washing machine and colours will bleed for sure. Ditto with these tunes, tracks, songs.
After Lightfoot, I have little use for song titles. Without the lyrics, will I be able to easily tell Track 1 from Track 3? This one’s like a less catchy that. That, is a far superior version of this. This one doesn’t evoke Feeling A the same way Track X does in the first. The first one is X2, which is equal to A. The second is B – 1, which is 2X2 / 3 or less. What about strong melodies? Is there enough to carry on down to the twelfth track? But “strong” is subjective. What sound strong to others might still seem weak to me.
Strong powder detergents (i.e., Tide), however, could wear the colours of the fabric really fast. And by their third album, I found tide/edit’s sound kind of thinning out. The colours faded and the distinction between each track, somewhat as blurry as clothes—undies, socks, shirts—whirling inside the tub. I’d give Lightfoot A for effort and C for delivery. Early delivery. For All My Friends, I’d give it the benefit of the doubt and two and a half pouch of Ariel with fabric conditioner. ‘Cause every time I play it, it leads me to the band’s earlier stuff. And by earlier stuff, I mean Foreign Languages, the band’s evocative full-length debut.
Math makes the intangible tangible, defines the imaginary, helps explain what seems to be, well, unexplainable—like our universe. With Foreign Languages, indie-rock quartet tide/edit does something—not exactly opposite—different. The tunes in Foreign Languages, they aren’t easy to describe or explain—not that one needs to—yet they could easily capture one’s attention and/or imagination.
tide/edit’s music has been labeled as post-rock, math-pop, indie-rock. The members of tide/edit just want to call it “happy music”—label that belies the songs’ complexity, the dexterity in which they are played. Also, “happy” is not just a bit reductive. Sure, most of the tracks are, particularly “Nicholas” and “Another Yes,” but not “HAIYAN” or “Odd & Even.” But we should all be happy for this singer-less, almost faceless band—their music has gained traction online and offline, their first full-length album Foreign Languages (ditto with their succeeding LPs) is also released overseas, via Japan’s Friends of Mine Records—not a minor achievement for this quartet from Manila.
tide/edit’s brand of instrumental rock, as on Foreign Languages, is probably best described with anecdotes, images, places. Sans lyrics, the listener is invited to fill the gaps—emotions, thoughts, scenic views, old photographs. It’s like watching the beautiful sunset on the way back home, or being stuck in traffic on the way to the airport, amidst a tropical storm. It’s like moments of hope, bliss, loneliness, nostalgia, longing, trapped between your ears, locked inside your headphones. Sometimes it’s sad, beautiful.