It hurts a bit to say it, but Covet’s latest record, Catharsis, is proof of the old axiom: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. A soft-pop exterior coloured with Smashing Pumpkins-esque rock sensibilities does little to hide that scratching the surface here reveals (apart from the undeniable instrumental virtuosity) more surface.

Yvette Young, the musical mastermind behind the trio, may have made her mark as a pianist before taking the guitar world by storm, as evidenced in her pandemic-era Logitech commercial (see below), but the fuzzy, rose-tinted veneer of her compositions does little to push the boundaries of creative expression. With a musical voice like hers, one that begs to be heard, there is a level of responsibility, too, to shape the audience’s awareness and inspire social impact.

The Logitech commercial in question.

Sadly, this is the plight of much of the nerd-core/math-rock stable: the musicians get lost in the expression of their own talent and forget that the medium is the message, too. And if that message is merely one of musical flex without any substance behind it, overtones of narcissism are inevitable. See the likes of Polyphia, for example, where the sheer blinding virtuosity fails to hide the egoism. In fact, with rare exceptions – such as Animals As Leaders – the entire genre is one based on one-upmanship.

The sad reality of this is one Neil Postman decried in his 1984 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, where he prophesied the cultural apocalypse we now face, wherein media means more than ideas. In his words, in a situation where “arguments are no longer predicated on proposition, but on good looks, celebrities and commercials,” then a musical form built around bragging rights and personal achievement is going to guarantee success in ways powerful, intellectual ideals never will.

Covet, photo by Eli Chavez
Covet, photo by Eli Chavez

That’s not to say it’s all bad, just not all that interesting in the long term – except perhaps to other technically-minded musicians. What Covet do manage to do, however, is inject a whimsy and youthful innocence to their compositions that can sustain youthful appeal; where other post-rock luminaries like Godspeed! You Black Emperor are celebrated for their re-definition of the protest anthem, Covet subverts the politicization of the genre and instead, replaces it with the Californian sunshine and unbridled optimism of a beautiful TikTok generation.

Despite my misgivings regarding the tendency towards over-technicality evidenced by the genre in general, Catharsis is an easy listen and an unashamedly positive one. While there is a lot to love (like the deceptive simplicity of the main theme of “Vanquish” or the appropriately warm guitar tone of “Lovespell”), “Interlude,” while definitely performing the task it is so aptly named for, is the stand-out piece on Catharsis. The piano-dominant piece marries the deft sensitivity of Debussy with the post-rock atmosphere and haunting electronics of Sigur Rós. Compositions like this, more than any other, give me hope that Covet won’t get lost in just showing off their own skills and will continue to craft music with a more profound message in the future.

The music video for “Firebird” paints record store nostalgia in glowing tones.

Covet are currently on a North American tour, details, tickets, and dates can be found here.

Catharsis Track Listing:

1. Coronal
2. Firebird
3. Bronco
4. Vanquish
5. Interlude
6. Smolder
7. Merlin
8. Lovespell

Run Time: 28:33
Release Date: April 7, 2023
Record Label: Triple Crown Records


This is Dayv. He writes stuff and makes being an aging goth cool again. Actually, nobody can do the latter, so let's just stick to him writing stuff. Predominantly about black metal, tattoos and other essential cultural necessities. He also makes pretty pictures, but that's just to pay the bills.