While technically their debut album, Notta Comet’s new self-released LP, Success With Houseplants, acts as a semi-logical continuation of their prior musical releases. Originally a moniker for guitarist/vocalist Alex Williams’ spoken-word endeavours, Notta Comet has morphed and shifted away from lo-fi, electro-jazz backed poetry readings into its current state: a math-, art-, jazz-, indie-, bike-rock trio making some of the strangest and most original music coming out of Montreal today.
Success With Houseplants’ eight tracks clock in at under half an hour, but that doesn’t stop them from covering a wide range of genres and sounds. Despite the vast array of disparate and unlikely musical styles that Notta Comet incorporates into this one record, cohesion is not abandoned. Throughout the entire album, guitar lines jerk across vast expanses of spoken word, and poly-rhythmic drum beats inhabiting prime number time signatures combine with bass lines straight from Motown. Even with a wide variety of genres and styles, sonic unity is achieved.
The first track of the album, “Colonial Authorities,” jumps back and forth between sharp and minimal verses characterized by talk-singing and grand hollered choruses with wide open chords and crashing cymbals. It acts as a perfect example of Notta Comet’s sonic adventurousness and knack for experimentation.
The rest of the record maintains those elements of unexpectedness: Williams’ sharp and dissonant guitar lines, Crawford Smith’s steady and melodic bass lines, and Eli Kaufman’s breathtaking and irregular drum beats. After seven tracks of key changes and musical surprises, the listener almost expects to be taken aback at every song.
That is, until the final track, “Don’t Upset My God.”
Starting as a Remain in Light-era Talking Heads throwback, complete with sprawling bass lines, quick and tight drumming, and nearly nonsensical vocals, the track suddenly shifts. After rising to a noisy climax a minute and a half into the track, the song calms down into a slow, swinging jazz jam. “Don’t Upset My God” slides by, lazy and serene, with gentle improvisations floating by one another.
After an album teeming with surprises, Notta Comet’s final shock comes in ending Success With Houseplants with absolute euphony.