Clumsy though it may read, that title proves to be an unexpectedly prescient one. Errors’ debut is one of those rare, refreshing delights: an album that ticks so many boxes and hearkens to no small amount of reference points and yet comes out feeling totally fresh, uniquely original, and with a sound that is firmly its own. It’s not quite like that familiar something, but you know, it is kind of like whatever. Make no mistake, that’s “whatever” through unimportance rather than indifference, because for all their allusions, implacable or otherwise, Errors mark out their territory like a tiger amongst tabbies—comparable but surely distinctive.
The product of over a year’s graft in Glaswegian studios, It’s Not Something, But It Is Like Whatever eschews the oft-trodden debut route by leaving introductory EPs and singles in the past. The foursome’s playfully-titled short-player How Clean Is Your Acid House? thus provides only the seeds, rather than the substance of this full-length, and if that suggests Errors are an outfit with no scarcity of ideas, their debut’s opening gambits do little to prove otherwise. It all begins fairly inconspicuously, with “Dance Music”‘s frivolous bassline and scrambling reverberations, but it takes less than thirty seconds before great swathes of synth take hold, washing up with them squeaks, squalls, and scratches and a punchy beat to verify the track’s title. “National Prism” trods a similar path, with calm, unassuming guitar-based beginnings swept aside early on by the accumulation of unkempt yet joyful synth, its throbbing electro heart still beating even when the guitars are recalled to the fore. Both tracks are equal parts mess and melody and boast a mesmerising ability to feel out moments of beauty amongst the mire, a quality that will go on to form the backbone of It’s Not Something.
In this respect, Errors share common ground with Sheffield math-post-something-rock noise mongers 65daysofstatic, who themselves manage the dichotomy of euphoric melody and blistering surges of sound as capably as if they were bread and butter. “Still Game” is the prime example: simple, overlapping guitar and dot-to-dot glockenspiel seem to set a scene primed for post-rock-by-numbers but, like 65days before them, Errors have other ideas, and so in come in the electro beats and simmering synths to skew things in a different direction. Recent single “Toes” sends the associations Stateside, more specifically in the direction of New Yorkers Battles, with interweaving pinpoint riffs and wobbling electronics, its drumwork less pummelling but as eager for involvement as John Stanier’s.
Yet while such comparisons aren’t short in number, It’s Not Something is more like a quick drive past some electro-rock luminary house party rather than an extended stay. Wheels turning, brief snatches of Errors’ musical heritage flash by without overshadowing the overall journey. Much focus in some quarters, for instance, has rested on the fact that Errors are signed to the Rock Action label helmed by fellow Glaswegians Mogwai, but the two outfits are only a little alike sonically, with respect to their comfortable blending of electronic ingredients and post-rock-sourced arpeggios. Indeed, the only instance in which this comparison can be taken all the way is on “Crystal Maze”, a hazy, humid wash of sound that would fit snugly beside some of the slower burners off of Mr. Beast.
That said, slow-burners aren’t really what we’re here for, and Errors, like Battles, are at their finest when they’ve something rhythmically strong to wrap their sonic tentacles around. That’s not to say that the likes of closer “Alot of the Things You Don’t Isn’t” and the spliced-up monologue soundscapes of “Cutlery Drawer” don’t appeal. The former, a sparse affair, is an apt choice to finish proceedings, its attractive piano meanderings and sparely applied synth providing the comedown at the end of what proves to be a markedly energetic album. The latter, meanwhile, features a cameo from British diseuse George Pringle (and the only vocal to feature on the album) that risks sounding disinterested, but thankfully the splintered, crystalline hue that Errors lace her realist teen narrative with is the perfect foil for her eye-rolling irony (“people in Oxford don’t know how to do drugs”). But it’s tracks like “Dance Music”, “National Prism”, and early single “Salut! France”, an exhilarating fusion of acid house and fuzzy electronica, that truly stick in the head. It’s here that Errors excel, when they’re constructing solid foundations out of beats and bass only to melt them down into a messy but gloriously, danceable concoction. Just as good is “Pump”, which weaves, bobs and ducks its way through seven minutes of zesty, bass-heavy techno, sounding more like Warp stalwart Chris Clark stripping down LCD Soundsystem to their bare instrumental essentials than anything that could be pegged with unseemly prefixes like math- and post-.
All in all it’s a remarkable surefooted debut, something that’s pretty inevitable for a band taken under the collective guiding eminence of Mogwai but that nonetheless smacks of a group of musicians justifiably confident in themselves. Confident in their ability to make music chaotic, graceful, and danceable in equal measures, confident enough to clip the corners of what other outfits are doing without sounding derivative or even unoriginal, and, no doubt, confident they’ve just made a damn fine debut album.