Ifwhen doesn’t sound exactly like ANL&LF, but it does sound like its natural progression. The shoegaze and post-rock elements have become very compressed, and the songs are more jaggedly three-dimensional. There’s a geometric feel to it, as if they aren’t playing melodies, but unspooling the schematics of theoretical architecture from an AUTOCAD machine that’s just finished reading House of Leaves.
The logic/programming implications of their name become readily apparent in the multifaceted intersections of sound and direction. Each song is a maze of possibilities being explored simultaneously. It verges on noise, but like ANL&LF, Ifwhen is always revolving around and reflecting a solid pop core through its many twirling prisms. It’s the Everlasting Gobstopper of ear candy. It’s still highly disorienting—psychotically (psychedelically) schizoid, like listening to Barrett, Belong and Melt Banana all at the same time—but they really are working to fuck your shit up for your own good. They’re trying to change your perception.
And they can do it, too. Unlike most post-MBV bands, Ifwhen don’t compose based on volume, or reverb, or textures, or shades of color. They aren’t feeling things out improvisationally, they’re reconfiguring the actual internal structure of the music. Keyboardist Mary McDowell can actually play in two different time signatures (one with each hand) at the same time. And Merc’s guitar has a way of constantly folding in on itself like origami that never resolves into known shapes. Everything is oblique without being obfuscatory. The hidden song structures will slowly crystallize on repeated listens as you learn to navigate their psychohedron space.