Don’t Mess With Texas is a four-piece instrumental act from Zagreb, Croatia. Even though they have only been together for a little over a year they have developed a well-honed sound that mixes haunting atmospherics and angular art rock.
Their self-titled release opens with “Sound Of One Lung Filling With Water,” an eerie track that is based around a simple piano line and repetitive drum beat, while in the background a guitar fires off echo and delay-tinged bursts. This goes on for almost 5 minutes before the song shifts to a faster tempo and the music suddenly sounds like a scene from a suspense thriller or the soundtrack to a late night drive home through the rain. Eventually the distortion kicks in on the guitar and the song rocks out its last couple minutes.
From there the band shifts to its more rock-oriented side with “This Plane Is Definitely Crashing.” The guitar, bass, and drums almost sound like a Cursive song while the piano adds a layer of melody to the post-punk crunch.
The rest of the album follows the formulas established by the first two songs. “We Excused Ourselves To The Bathroom And Had A Little Cry,” starts with a brooding tremolo rich guitar and slowcore beat before breaking into a driving closing movement. “Marijana, Daj Stani,” recalls the Album Leaf with its clean guitar notes and jazzy piano flourishes, but stays true to Don’t Mess With Texas’s formula by building into a post-punk crescendo. “God Might Want To Change His Mind” and “You’re Not Punk And I’m Tellin’ Everyone” (which, by the way, doesn’t sound like Jawbreaker at all) close out the album with songs that shift back and forth between smooth introspective moments and loud pounding rock fits.
While some of the songs here are quite lengthy, Don’t Mess With Texas is able to hold your attention thanks to their God Speed You Black Emperor!-like structures. The songs keep you wanting to hear what comes next as they slowly build. Don’t Mess With Texas are also an interesting instrumental act because there are no gratuitous solos, extended jams, or math rock dynamics here. Instead, the band keeps things stripped down and moving so that no part seems too long, out of place, or difficult to listen to.
Even if you aren’t a fan of instrumental music you might want to check this out, because Don’t Mess With Texas sound more like instrumental moments from a post-punk band than an instrumental band with post-punk moments.