31Knots might as well perform its new album on the mountain faces where the Spartans left weakling babies to die. Worried Well clearly has brutality, dystopia, and Big Brother on the brain, and empty space scours the record like a freezing wind, keeping the trio's math-rock decadence in check. Singer Joe Haege explores his themes with all the subtlety of a mincing vaudevillian who just discovered 1984. Amid the gleefully circling, ever-sinister piano and bass melodies of "Compass Commands," he asks a chorus of schoolchildren, "Who can tell me the universal rule of thumb?" They chirp back, "Kill or be killed!" and he beams: "Correct!" He also rips in from another side, yelling himself hoarse on the chorus. "The Breaks" strikes a similar balance: Jabs of noise and furious drum rolls put violent sting into a farce about a nightmare bureaucracy. ("The waiting room will see you now.") Worried Well often sounds as confused and pompous as it does visionary. Luckily, the band has enough urgency and runaway sonic flexibility to turn that into one of its charms.
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