The word triangle evokes high-school geometry and that instrument you were handed to play at the right moment in elementary school music class, and, in most ways, these are the same impressions that Triangle brings to mind with its self-titled album. Although the band embraces technology, with its adoration for giddy electronic compositions, this is much more than faceless dance music. Amanda Warner and Brian Tester, who comprise the Minnesotan group Triangle, sound like alt-rockers who just happen to be computer geeks. The results are quirky and youthful without ever descending into the self-absorption of most electronica.
While its chirpy pop instincts tend to place Triangle alongside the youthful affectations of groups like Bis, the band’s music tends to be without an agenda. Despite the predominance of computer-aided compositions, Triangle joyfully comes across as a garage band that figured out how to hook up its laptop. The band members are obviously no studio wizards — their production lacks polish, but this is part of Triangle’s charm. Triangle suggests the indie band of the future — one that has traded in its guitars for computers.
Warner and Tester trade vocal duties throughout most of Triangle, to quirky effect. Warner’s babydoll voice floats along the electronic tracks on songs like the opener, “The Results”, while Tester’s sarcastic, nerdy voice deadpans on tracks like “A Different Way”. When the two combine, the juxtaposition of Warner’s ethereal voice and Tester’s real-world one provides an unexpected grounding point for Triangle’s odder tendencies. This effect is missing on instrumental tracks like “Dan”. Triangle is still pretty much out there, but the appeal of Warner and Tester’s vocals gives listeners an easy way to relate to the weirder elements of Triangle.
Like its music, Triangle’s lyrics tend to loop around themselves, from the cyclical sound of “Why do you need to say anything? That’s what you say about everything” (from “Ordinaries”) to the constantly repeated chorus of “Political Song”, where Warner and Tester sing “we said no violence words turned inside turned them off outside there’s no violence”. While there is an essentially nonsensical feel to what Triangle sings, the nature of its lyrics does help to give these songs a more concrete structure that they would otherwise not have.
Triangle’s relentless perkiness, however, does become tiresome. With dizzying arrangements on tracks like “8:26 AM” and “Two Claps”, listeners are worn down with the band’s constant insistence on making everything faster and more exciting. By the time Triangle gets to the mellow “Ways and Means”, listeners will realize how exhausted the rest of the album has made them. Regardless of the short length of Triangle, the energy it takes to listen to the whole thing in one sitting almost isn’t worth it. This is the ultimate disappointment with Triangle. For as much promise as the album shows, it unfortunately sinks into tedium. Although Triangle is not attempting to make any big statement with this music, what it does say is of no consequence.
Triangle manages to sustain the majority of this album, but overall, the band seems a bit uncertain of itself. The allure of a new form of garage rock that is created on computers isn’t lost, but Triangle doesn’t quite know where to take it. Warner and Tester have potential but they need a better direction. While the band’s name may appropriately bring to mind math and music class, Triangle isn’t going to teach listeners anything.