Jay Nugent

Effective guitar bands must have their heads on a swivel­ — looking back, looking forward, and scanning laterally to see what trends should be explored and which ones should be scrapped for parts. It’s a fickle, frantic business to stay balanced between our conflicting desires for what’s familiar, and what’s fresh.

In the case of St. Catharines quintet Kaptur, the frenetic tension that comes with walking this fine line is on full display. With their new single “Pixel”, the boys from the Garden City showcase a keen ear for how to subvert expectations while using time-tested, familiar sounds. The track barrels out of the gate with anxious, fuzzed-out guitars and a truly nasty, layered drum groove that steadies the song without draining its urgency. As “Pixel” churns along, delicate guitar arrangements and proggy-electronics float in and out of more aggressive passages in a way that recalls bands like Swervedriver, Minus the Bear, and Jimmy Eat World. The star, though, is the textured, relentless rhythm. Kaptur does well to keep the drums constant and pummeling even through the song’s more atmospheric moments; it’s what keeps “Pixel” grounded in and amongst its own swirling accumulation of sounds.

When taken in the context of “Pixel”’s expansive, alt-rock elements, the use of such taut rhythms feels like Kaptur’s way of subverting their more rudimentary guitar-based influences for something more modern and mechanized. The interplay of styles creates a dynamic contrast that keeps the song on an even footing. “Pixel”is a prime example of a band feeding off the constant tension that comes with having your head on a swivel, creating art in that precarious space between innovation and convention.

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